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Volume 5 No 1 Spring 1984 

Grace Theological Journal 

Published Semiannually by 

Grace Theological Seminary 

Winona Uke, IN 46590 

Editorial Board 

Homer A. Kent, Jr. 


Jerry Young 

Board of Trustees 

E. William Male 


Editorial Committee 

John C. Whitcomb 


John J. Davis 

Assistant Editor 

D. Wayne Knife 

Associate Editor, 
Old Testament 

Charles R. Smith 

Associate Editor, 

John A. Sproule 

Associate Editor, 
New Testament 

Production Committee 

James Eisenbraun 

Managing Editor 

Donald L. Fowler 

Book Review Editor 

Weston W. Fields 


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ISSN 0198-666X. Copyright e 1984 Grace Theological Seminary. All rights reserved. 



Volume 5 No 1 Spring 1984 


Luther on Life Without Dichotomy 3-11 


The Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6:2, 4 13-36 


Evangelicals, Redaction Criticism, and Inerrancy: The 
Debate Continues 37-45 


The Origin and History of the Samaritans 47-75 


Paulus Infirmus: The Pauline Concept of Weakness .... 77-93 


How are the Mighty Fallen! A Study of 2 Samuel 

1:17-27 95-126 


Evangelistic Praying 127-133 


Book Reviews 1 34- 1 56 

Brief Reviews 157-160 


David Alan Black 

Dept. of New Testament, Biola University, 13800 Biola Ave., 
La Mirada, CA 90639 

Wayne A. Brindle 

Liberty Baptist College, Box 20000, Lynchburg, VA 24506 

James Edward McGoldrick 

Dept. of History, Cedarville College, Box 601, Cedarville, OH 

Curtis Mitchell 

Biola University, 13800 Biola Ave., La Mirada, CA 90639 

Robert C. Newman 

Biblical Theological Seminary, 200 N. Main St., Hatfield, PA 

David L. Turner 

Dept. of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Grace Theo- 
logical Seminary, 200 Seminary Drive, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

David L. Zapf 

RR 8, Warsaw, IN 46580 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 3-11 


James Edward McGoldrick 

77?^ doctrine of the priesthood of all believers was a fundamental 
belief of all the Protestant Reformers of the 16th century, but none 
gave it greater emphasis than Martin Luther. The great German father 
of the Reformation regarded this doctrine as the basis for a proper 
understanding of the Christian life. His teaching on this subject 
stressed the wholeness of the believer's life as a priest before God 
regardless of his occupation. Luther believed that this doctrine demol- 
ished the sacred I secular dichotomy of the medieval church, a false 
dichotomy which undermined the entire biblical teaching about salva- 
tion and its implications for the Christian in the discharge of his 
social responsibilities. The true Christian life, in Luther's understand- 
ing, is the life of service rendered eagerly to one 's neighbors, for true 
faith is always active in love. 

WRITING to Christians in the first century, the Apostle Peter 
admonished them to recognize that they composed "a spiritual 
house, ... a holy priesthood, offering sacrifices acceptable to God 
through Jesus Christ." Believers, Peter said, "are a chosen people, a 
royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that 
[they] may declare the praises of him who has called [them] out of 
darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Pet 2:5, 9 NIV). 

The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers to which Peter 
referred is an indispensable distinctive of biblical faith, and without it 
true Christianity cannot endure. The church was, however, still in its 
infancy when professional priests rose to prominence and assumed 
the role of necessary mediators between God and men. A sharp 
cleavage consequently developed between the clergy and the laity, and 
Christians were instructed to regard the priests and monks as members 
of a sacred estate and to view themselves as the secular estate. 
Medieval teaching depicted the church as a ship sailing toward heaven 
with priests and monks aboard. Laymen had to swim or be towed by 
ropes attached to the ship. Many people, of course, drowned in a vain 
effort to pursue the vessel of salvation. In the medieval view secular 


occupations were regarded as spiritually inferior to the sacred calling 
of the priesthood. Laymen were taught to depend upon the clergymen 
as those who dispensed saving and sanctifying graces of which the 
institutional church was the fountain.' 

In the Middle Ages the Christian life was construed in terms of a 
sacred /secular dichotomy, and salvation was believed to be a reward 
for good works made possible by an infused grace which was imparted 
principally by the sacraments. Human merit became the central con- 
cern in soteriology, and the monastery was viewed as the ideal place 
for the practice of Christian piety. The medieval conception of the 
Christian life was egocentric and sacerdotal. The Pauline declaration 
of freedom from the law (Rom 8:1-4) evidently was eclipsed by a 
rigorous legalism which imposed a type of spiritual bondage through 
the teaching of works-righteousness. This may have been the darkest 
feature of the so-called Dark Ages. 

Although the wonderful light of the gospel was dimmed badly in 
the Middle Ages, it was not extinguished, and in the 16th century it 
burst forth again in all its radiant brilliance when God called Martin 
Luther into the service of the truth. Luther, himself a priest and 
monk, through patient exegesis of the scripture, learned the truth of 
justification through faith alone, a discovery which led him to re- 
nounce the sacred/ secular dichotomy and to reclaim the NT teaching 
of the priesthood of all believers. Through faith, Luther found in the 
gospel the joy of Christian freedom experienced in a life without 

As a believer liberated through faith in Christ, Luther never 
ceased to extol the unity and wholeness of the Christian priesthood. 
He contended that all of God's people belong to a single sacred estate 
in which all have equal access to the Father through Christ. Every 
form of honest toil performed for God's glory is therefore a divine 
calling. Luther spoke at times about a weltlicher Beruf (worldly 
calling), but he meant thereby a place in the world where one could 
fulfill his divinely ordained vocation. In Luther's understanding, one 
should serve gladly in the station where God has placed him, and that 
is to be determined mainly by the gifts of providence. To some God 
has granted the gifts for the gospel ministry; to others he has im- 
parted talents for ruling principalities, mending shoes, or raising 

In a letter of 1520 addressed to the princes of Germany Luther 
called upon the rulers to exercise their Christian priesthood by leading 
the reform of church and society. In this treatise the great reformer 

See the excellent article by Otto Pfleiderer, "Luther as Founder of Protestant 
Morals," Lutheran Quarterly 18 (1888) 31-53. 

mcgoldrick: life without dichotomy d 

expressed abhorrence for the dichotomous view of the Christian life 
in which he had been schooled. 

It is pure invention that pope, bishops, priests and monks are called the 
spiritual estate, while princes, lords, artisans, and farmers are called the 
temporal estate. This is indeed a piece of deceit and hypocrisy. Yet no 
one need be intimidated by it, and for this reason: all Christians are 
truly of the spiritual estate, and there is no difference among them 
except that of office.^ 

It follows from this argument that there is no true, basic difference 
between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and 
secular, except for the sake of office and work, but not for the sake of 
status. They are all of the spiritual estate, and are truly priests, bishops, 
and popes. . . . We are all one body of Christ the Head, and all 
members one of another. Christ does not have two different bodies, 
one temporal, and the other spiritual. There is but one Head and one 

In arguing that all Christians are members of the spiritual estate 
and discharge a sacred calling, Luther recognized no distinctive call 
to the ministry as opposed to a call to any other vocation. He believed 
that God works through men, so the church could appraise one's gifts 
and extend the call to preach accordingly."* Contrary to the medieval 
view, which extolled the monastic life as the highest calling, Luther 
affirmed the sacredness of every station in life as a place where 
Christians may exercise their gifts in the ministry of their priesthood. 

The medieval Catholic view of the Christian life stressed renun- 
ciation of the world and its pleasures as the most meritorious en- 
deavor possible. Luther, however, espoused a joyous affirmation of 
life lived in society. He regarded the created world as the proper place 
for the practice of godliness, because the Christian is a subject (citizen) 
of two kingdoms, and to each kingdom he has responsibilities. He 
should not withdraw from the kingdom of earth in order to seek the 
kingdom of heaven, for the Christian life is one of service to be 
rendered here and now in Jesus' name. 

^Martin Luther, "To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation Concerning the 
Reform of the Christian Estate," tr. C. M. Jacobs, rev. James Atkinson, Luther's 
H^orA:^, 44 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966) 127. 

'Ibid., 129-30. 

■"The implication of Luther's teaching should be clear — no profession or occupa- 
tion is more "reverend" than another. The godly farmer is just as reverend as the 
clergyman. There should therefore be no talk about "full-time Christian service." It is 
significant that the reformers placed far less emphasis on the rite of clerical ordination 
than is the case today. Neither Philip Melanchthon nor John Calvin was formally 
ordained. This is, of course, not an argument against ordination as such, but it does 
reflect the reformers' position on the priesthood. 


Luther taught that all true Christians have been called into the 
kingdom of heaven by saving grace, and all are equal in that kingdom. 
It is a kingdom of receiving the benevolence of the King. The kingdom 
of earth, on the other hand, is a state of social (but not spiritual) 
inequalities. In this kingdom the Christian lives for giving by serving 
others.^ As the Christian discharges the duties of his priesthood, he 
demonstrates a faith which is active in love. No station in life is 
intended for the exaltation of him who holds it. Even the prince, who 
enjoys authority to rule lands and peoples, should recognize that God 
has called him to serve those he governs, "for those who punish evil 
and protect the good, are God's servants and workmen."^ 

Although Luther regarded justification sola fide as the heart of 
the Christian faith and therefore emphasized the believer's relation- 
ship with God, it is evident that he had a keen sense of the Christian's 
social responsibility as well. He believed that God's saving grace sets 
one free from the penalty due to sin and from the legalism of works- 
righteousness which had kept people in bondage for so long. In his 
treatise The Freedom of a Christian (1520) Luther stated, "a Christian 
is a perfectly free lord of all, subject to none. A Christian is a perfectly 
dutiful servant of all, subject to all."^ 

At first glance the above propositions may appear to be irrecon- 
cilable, but Luther found them fully harmonious — correlative truths. 
He explained by citing the dictum of St. Paul, "though I am free and 
belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone" (1 Cor 9:19 
NIV). Luther held that genuine Christian faith always produces love, 
for faith must be active in love. Faith ascends to God, and Christian 
love descends to one's neighbor and renders service to him as a 
fulfillment of the believer's calling. The Christian does not need to 
work for his salvation, as the Romanists contended, so he is free to 
invest his life in the service of his fellow men. In the ultimate sense, 
one can do nothing for God, for he is utterly self-sufficient. Man, 
however, who has been created in the image of God, is constantly in 
need of spiritual and material assistance. Let the saints then follow 
the example of Christ, who came to earth in both the form of God 
and the form of a servant (Phil 2:5-1 1).* 

As Christ is priest and king, so his disciples are priests and kings 
(1 Pet 2:9). Luther exclaimed. 

'See Philip S. Watson, "Luther's Doctrine of Vocation," SJT 1 1 (1949) 364-77. 

^Luther, "Temporal Authority, to What Extent It should be Obeyed," tr. J. J. 
Schindel, rev. W. L Brandt, Luther's Works, 45 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1962) 100. 

Luther, "The Freedom of a Christian," tr. W. A. Lambert, rev. Harold J. Grimm, 
Luther's Works, 31 (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1957) 344. 


mcgoldrick: life without dichotomy 7 

Not only are we [Christians] the freest of kings, we are also priests 
forever, which is far more excellent than being kings, for as priests we 
are worthy to appear before God to pray for others and to teach one 
another divine things. . . . Christ has made it possible for us ... to be 
not only his brethren, co-heirs, and fellow kings, but also his fellow 

The believer's kingship and priesthood testify to his spiritual 
freedom. "From this anyone can clearly see how a Christian is free 
from all things and over all things, so that he needs no works to make 
him righteous and save him, since faith alone . . . confers all these 
things.""' The faith which confers these benefits is a gift from God, 
and those who receive it demonstrate its reality by good works. As 
Luther stated it beautifully. 

Faith is truly active through love. That is, it finds expression in works 
of the freest service, cheerfully and lovingly done, with which a man 
willingly serves another without hope of reward; and for himself he is 
satisfied with the fulness and wealth of his faith. ' ' 

Good works performed in faith do not bring benefit to God or to 
one's self. They bring benefits to one's neighbor. Although believers 
and unbelievers may perform exactly the same outward deeds, the 
works of the latter are not truly good. Unless one performs works 
from a motive of sincere love for God, his works are not pleasing to 
God despite the relative earthly benefits they may confer. For this 
reason Luther scorned the monastic view of good works. The monks 
declared their intention to imitate the example of Christ, and some of 
them became renowned for their charity. Luther contended, neverthe- 
less, that their works were not good because they were motivated by a 
selfish desire for reward, and the monks trusted in their imitation of 
Christ to save them. True morality is present only when one performs 
good works lovingly and eagerly without regard for any personal gain 
to be realized.'^ As Luther related, "our faith in Christ does not free 
us from works but from false opinions concerning works, that is, from 
the foolish presumption that justification is acquired by works. "'^ 

In the medieval church enormous emphasis was placed on the 
meritorious character of celibacy, to which all clergymen were com- 
mitted by vows. Although marriage was regarded as a sacrament and 

'Ibid., 355. 

'"Ibid., 356. 

"Ibid., 365. 
See Gustaf Wingren, "The Christian's Calling According to Luther," Augustana 
Quarterly 2i (1942) 3-16; Martin J. Heinecken, "Luther and the 'Orders of Creation' in 
Relation to a Doctrine of Work and Vocation," Lutheran Quarterly 4 (1952) 393-414. 

'^Luther, "Freedom of a Christian," 372-73. 


therefore a means of grace, celibacy, which was not a sacrament, was 
considered a far superior spiritual state. Luther denied its sacramental 
character, but he extolled marriage as the ideal context in which 
believers may put faith to work in active love. He argued that God 
created man and woman for each other, and he assailed Rome for 
exalting celibacy over this divine institution. He lamented that canon 
law had contaminated what God had declared clean and holy. Luther 
regarded celibacy as unnatural. He complained that the "papal rabble, 
priests, monks, and nuns resist God's . . . commandment when they 
despise . . . marriage and vow that they will maintain perpetual chas- 
tity while they deceive the common people with lying words and 
wrong impressions."''' In praising marriage Luther said that it excels 
all positions of earthly honor. "It is not an estate to be placed on a 
level with the others; it precedes and surpasses them all, whether 
those of emperor, princes, bishops, or anyone else."'^ 

In hailing marriage as an excellent relationship in which faith 
may be active in love, Luther contended that even menial tasks are 
good works pleasing to God when performed in faith. Speaking about 
a godly husband, he wrote, "cutting wood or heating a room is just as 
holy for him as praying ... is for a monk, for all works of a pious 
man are good because of the Holy Spirit and his faith." '^ The same is 
true of a devout wife and mother. Tending to the needs of crying 
children, washing diapers, and making beds are forms of Christian 
service which no one should denigrate.'^ So fervent was Luther in 
advocating marriage that he branded the Roman stress on celibacy a 
mark of Anti-Christ.'^ Luther then directed people away from mon- 
asteries populated by celibates to the Christian home where father, 
mother, and children served God through serving one another and 
therefore enjoyed life without dichotomy. 

One reason why Luther found monasticism so distasteful was 
because it encouraged the belief that begging was an especially pious 
expression of Christian humility. During the Middle Ages beggars 
were very common, and the church admonished its members to give 
alms generously. Many people were poverty-stricken due to circum- 
stances they could not control, and for such people Luther had a 
tender heart, and to them he gave lavishly. The monks, however, 
assumed poverty voluntarily because they regarded it as a means of 

'""Luther, The Sixth Commandment, Large Catechism in Book of Concord, ed. 
T. G. Tappert, et. al. (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1952) 392. 

"Ibid., 393. 

'^Quoted by William H. Lazareth, Luther on the Christian Home (Philadelphia: 
Muhlenberg, 1960) 146. 

" What Luther Says, 11, ed. E. M. Plass (St. Louis: Concordia, 1959) #2766. 

'*lbid., #2779. 

mcgoldrick: life without dichotomy 9 

acquiring merit in heaven, a view which Luther came to abhor. The 
German reformer emphasized the dignity of work as a calHng, a 
service of love for one's neighbors. 

When the gifts of one's calHng are employed faithfully in loving 
service the Christian performs works which are truly good. They 
please God, benefit one's neighbors, and give joy to those who do 

If this truth could be impressed upon the poor people, a servant girl 
would dance for joy and praise and thank God; and with her careful 
work, for which she receives sustenance and wages, she would gain a 
treasure such as all who pass for the greatest saints do not have." 

Such a servant girl would find satisfaction in her work, her work in 
the sacred estate, and she would experience the joy of life without 

In Luther's understanding of the Christian life the believer's self- 
image as a servant is a fundamental motif. In the reformer's words, "a 
Christian lives not in himself but in Christ and in his neighbor. 
Otherwise he is not a Christian. He lives in Christ through faith, in 
his neighbor through love."^° 

To those who claimed to possess saving faith but failed to 
demonstrate an active concern for their neighbors' needs Luther issued 
a warning about the "illusion of faith." He insisted that emotional 
responses to the gospel are not necessarily evidences of genuine faith. 
Active love, expressing itself in good works, is the only reliable 
external index of faith. Such love, Luther held, would extend to 
sharing one's earthly goods with a neighbor in need. Just as Christ 
emptied himself when he left heaven to become man (Phil 2:5), be- 
lievers should sacrifice their possessions for the benefit of those in 
need. When illness strikes Christians should aid the sick, even at the 
risk of contagion to themselves. Luther did so himself by remaining 
in Wittenberg to minister to the sick and dying during an epidemic of 
bubonic plague.^' 

In rejecting the sacred/ secular, clergy/ laity dichotomy of the 
medieval church Luther denied that the Christian life should be ascetic 
in character. He believed that God had created the world for his own 
glory, but also for the enjoyment of his people. Luther therefore 
encouraged Christians to engage in, for example, the visual and 
musical arts, and to enjoy the excitement of athletic contests. For 

'''Luther, Large Catechism, 385. 
"Luther, "Freedom of a Christian," 37 L 

See the discussion of Luther's social ethics in Paul Althaus, Theology of Martin 
Luther, tr. R. C. Schultz (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1966) 294ff. 


music he had a particular love, and his contribution to Christian 
hymnody was immense. 

Luther appreciated greatly the aesthetic value of music, so he did 
not react against Catholic ceremonialism as strongly as did, for 
example, Zwingli and Calvin. Luther believed that music is a gift 
from God, an ideal means by which believers can express their loving 
adoration. He found devotional music a weapon with which to fight 
against temptation, and in order to promote Christian piety through 
music he composed thirty-seven hymns, all in the German language 
for use by entire congregations. No longer would Gregorian chants 
sung in Latin by monastic choirs dominate the services of the church. 
Worship became a corporate experience in the Reformation, and 
bodies of the faithful joined in singing such Lutheran compositions as 
"Jesus Christ Our God and Savior," "Lord, Keep us Steadfast in Thy 
Love," "From Trouble Deep 1 Cry to Thee," and, of course, "A 
Mighty Fortress is Our God." Luther said, "I place music next to 
theology and give it the highest praise. "^^ 

In the late Middle Ages, as in modern times, the divine gift of 
music was often employed for perverse uses, a practice which caused 
Luther great dismay. His insight into the character and proper role of 
music offers valuable guidance for the church in all ages. 

That it is good and pleasing to God to sing spiritual songs is, I think, 
not hidden to any Christian .... The kings and prophets of the Old 
Testament . . . praised God with singing and playing, with poetry and 
all kinds of string music. ... St. Paul too instituted this in 1 Corinthians 
14:15 and bids the Colossians (3:16) heartily to sing spiritual songs and 
psalms unto the Lord in order that thereby God's Word and Christian 
doctrine might be used and practiced in diverse ways .... 

I greatly desire that youth ... be trained in music and other proper 
arts, . . . whereby it might be weaned from the love ballads and sex 
songs and learn something beneficial and take up the good with relish, 
as befits youth. Nor am I at all of the opinion that all the arts are to be 
overthrown by the Gospel, as some superspiritual people protest, but I 
would gladly see all the arts, especially music, in the service of Him 
who has given and created them.^^ 

Contrary to Zwingli and Calvin, who feared that music might 
distract people from giving attention to the sermon, Luther became 
the father of the singing Protestant Church. Calvin eliminated all but 
congregational singing of psalms in unison, and Zwingli forbade the 
use of musical instruments in services of worship. Luther, however. 

^^What Luther Says, II, #3091. 
"Ibid., #3095. 

mcgoldrick: life without dichotomy 11 

favored the use of instruments, and the German Lutheran Churches 
went on to excel all other Protestant bodies of the sixteenth century 
in the development of their hymnody. J. S. Bach is a fine example of 
Luther's enduring influence. Bach employed music as a vehicle by 
which to proclaim the great themes of Reformation theology by 
composing to correspond with the doctrines of Luther's catechisms. 
He was guided by biblical principles in both the words and the form 
of his music. Bach wrote, "all music [should] have as its sole aim the 
glory of God and the recreation of the soul. Where this rule is not 
observed there is no real music, but only a devilish blubbering and 

Luther rejected the contention that the Christian life should be 
one of asceticism. He issued a ringing affirmation of God's good gifts, 
the enjoyment of which is a wholesome pleasure to be desired, and 
the Jesuits in the Counter-Reformation charged that more people had 
been damned by Luther's hymns than by his sermons and books. 

From Luther the church has received a rich legacy in doctrine 
and practice. In the providence of God it was he who led the way to 
demolish the dichotomy which had kept people from harmony with 
God and fellowship with one another, and from enjoying the Christian 
life in its wholeness, a wholeness which is realized by those who, 
though they are kings and priests, find their deepest satisfaction in 
being servants. 

^"Quoted by Paul Nettl, Luther and Music (New York: Russell & Russell, 1967) 
149; Luther's Works, 53, ed. Ulrich S. Leupold (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965) contains 
all of Luther's hymns with helpful editorial comments. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 13-36 

GENESIS 6:2, 4 

Robert C. Newman 

The exegesis of Gen 6:2, 4 in ancient times is surveyed among 
extant sources, both Jewish and Christian. These interpretations are 
categorized as either "supernatural" or "nonsupernatural" depending 
upon the identification of the "sons of God. " It is observed that the 
interpretation of "sons of God" as angels and "Nephilim" as giants 
dominates. This interpretation also seems to be that of the NT, 
almost certainly in Jude 6 and 2 Pet 2:4, and probably in 1 Cor 11:10 
and Matt 22:30. Some suggestions regarding the source of this interpre- 
tation and its validity are made. 

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the 
land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that 
the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, 
whomever they chose. Then the lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive 
with men forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be 
one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on earth in those 
days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the 
daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the 
mighty men who were of old, men of renown (Gen 6:1-4 NASB). 

This passage has been a center of controversy for at least two 
millennia. The present form of the dispute is rather paradoxical. On 
the one hand, liberal theologians, who deny the miraculous, claim the 
account pictures a supernatural liason between divine beings and 
humans.' Conservative theologians, though believing implicitly in 
angels and demons, tend to deny the passage any such import.^ The 

E.g., A. Richardson, Genesis l-l 1 (London: SCM, 1953); E. A. Speiser, Genesis 
(AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1964); B. Vawter, On Genesis: A New Reading (Garden 
City: Doubleday, 1977); G. von Rad, Genesis: A Commentary (rev. ed.; Philadelphia: 
Westminster, 1973). 

E.g., G. Ch. Aalders, Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981); H. G. Stigers, A 
Commentary on Genesis (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976); J. Murray, Principles of 
Conduct (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957) 243-49. 


liberal position is more understandable with the realization that they 
deny the historicity of the incident and see it as a borrowing from 
pagan mythology. The rationale behind the conservative view is more 
complex: though partially a reaction to liberalism, the view is older 
than liberal theology. Moreover, the conservative camp is not unani- 
mous in this interpretation; several expositors see supernatural liasons 
here, but ones which really occurred.^ 

The concern in this article, however, is not to trace the history of 
interpretation of this passage, nor (basically) to discuss modern argu- 
ments for and against various views. Rather, the concern is to see 
how it was understood in antiquity and (if possible) why it was so 

Gen 6:1-4 seems to be something of an "erratic boulder" for all 
interpreters, standing apart to some extent from its context. The 
preceding chapter consists of a 32-verse genealogy extending from 
Adam through his son Seth to Noah and his sons. God is mentioned 
in three connections only: he creates man (5:1), walks with Enoch 
(5:22, 24) and curses the ground (5:29). If we include the last two 
verses of chapter 4, we pick up two more references: Seth is God's 
replacement for Abel (4:25); and men begin to call upon the lord at 
the time of Enosh (4:26). Following our passage, the context leads 
quickly into the flood, beginning with God's observation that both 
man and beast must be wiped out because man's wickedness has 
become very great. 

From the passage and its context a number of questions arise. Who 
are the "sons of God" mention in 6:2, 4? The phrase occurs nowhere 
else in the context or even in Genesis. Who are the "daughters of 
men"? This phrase at least seems to be related to v 1, where "men" 
have "daughters" born to them. Why does the text say "sons of God" 
and "daughters of men" rather than "sons of men" and "daughters of 
God"? How is God's reaction in vv 3 and 5 related to all this? Are 
these marriages the last straw in a series of sins leading to the flood or 
not? Who are the "Nephilim" in v 4? Are they the offspring of the 
sons of God and the daughters of men or not? Are they the "mighty 
men" mentioned in the same verse? Is it their sin which brings on the 

The scope of this article does not permit an investigation of all 
these matters. We shall concentrate on two: the phrase DTt"7Kn "'33, 
usually translated "sons of God" (vv 2, 4) and the word wbzil, here 
transliterated "Nephilim" (v 4). Though other matters are of interest 

U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis: Part I: From Adam to 
Noah. Gen /-6* (Jerusalem: Magnes and Hebrew University, 1961); H. M. Morris, The 
Genesis Record (Gr&nd Rapids: Baker, 1976); W. A. Van Gemeren, "The Sons of God 
in Genesis 6:1-4." WTJ 43 (1981) 320-48. 


and will influence one's interpretation, these two seem to constitute 
an interpretive watershed. 

For ease of discussion we shall divide the various interpretive 
schemes into two broad categories which we label "supernatural" and 
nonsupernatural" (this rather clumsy term being used to avoid the 
connotation of "proper" which "natural" would give). The super- 
natural category will include any views in which the sons of God are 
not human, and the nonsupernatural those in which they are human. 
Within each category we shall proceed more or less chronologically 
from the earliest extant examples to late antiquity, giving greater 
attention to earlier materials. The NT will be omitted from this 
preliminary survey, but we shall return to it later to see if it favors 
one of these interpretations. Thereafter we shall examine possible 
exegetical bases for the various views and seek to draw some conclu- 
sions regarding not only what was done in antiquity but how we 
should interpret the passage. We hope also to provide some general 
methodological suggestions. 


Among extant materials interpreting Gen 6:2, 4, the supernatural 
view is older, though we cannot be sure in which work it appears 
first, the LXX or 1 Enoch. 


The Old Greek version of the Pentateuch, traditionally known 
as the LXX, was probably produced in the middle of the 3rd century 
B.C.'* Extant mss of Genesis render DTlVxn ''ll variously as uioi toC 
08oC and dyye^-oi toC 0eoO.^ The latter alternative clearly moves the 

"J. W. Wevers, "Septuagint," IDB 4 (1962) 273; E. M. Blaiklock, "Septuagint," 
ZPEB 5 (1976) 343-44. 

'See the relevant textual footnotes in A. Rahlfs, Septuaginta (7th ed.; Stuttgart: 
Wurttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1962) 8, and especially in J. W. Wevers, Genesis 
(Gottingen LXX: Gottingen: Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, 1974) 108. The variant 
ayye^-oi is the minority reading among extant mss and versions, but it is supported by 
many witnesses, including Codex Alexandrinus (4th century a.d.), as well as Philo and 
Josephus, both writing in the 1st century a.d. though extant only in much later mss. 
These latter comment on the passage in such a way that their reading cannot be 
dismissed as a scribal error from later Christian copyists, uioi is the majority reading, 
for which the most important witnesses are papyrus 91 1 (3rd century a.d.) and Codex 
Coislinianus (7th century). The Gottingen LXX favors the latter reading since it is 
supported by all the ms groups, though none are as early as Philo and Josephus. Yet 
the influence of the MT on the transmission of the LXX might well explain uioi, even 
if aYye>.oi were the original translation. It is therefore impossible to be certain whether 
dyYE^oi was the original translation or an early midrashic corruption. 


text in a supernatural direction, even though dyy£?iO(; sometimes 
means a human messenger (e.g.. Gen 32:3, 6). This variant is already 
cited and discussed by Philo,^ so apparently predates the 1st century 
A.D. In Gen 6:4 D'''?D3 is translated yiyavTec; without textual variation. 
The Greek word, usually rendered "giant," indicates a warrior of 
large stature^ and translates IDJ in Gen 10:8, 9. 

1 Enoch 

Possibly older than the LXX is the book of Enoch, an apocalyptic 
work of great diversity organized around revelations allegedly given 
to the patriarch of this name. The particular material we are concerned 
with is thought to be pre-Maccabean by Charles and from the early 
2nd century B.C. by Eissfeldt. In any case, fragments from this part of 
Enoch have been found at Qumran in a style of handwriting that 
dates to the pre-Christian era.* 

The first five chaps, of Enoch present a mostly poetic picture of 
the coming of God to earth in judgment and what this will mean for 
the wicked and the righteous. Chap. 6 begins: 

And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied, in those 
days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the 
angels, the children of heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to 
one another: 'Come, let us choose wives from among the children of 
men and beget us children.' (/ Enoch 6:1-2) 

The account goes on (chaps. 6-8) to tell how two hundred angels 
came down on Mt. Hermon, led by their chief Semjaza, took wives, 
taught them science, magic and technology, and begot by them giants 
over a mile high! Along with Semjaza, principal attention is given to 
the angel Azazel, who taught mankind metallurgy for weapons and 

The good angels report these things to God (chap. 9), who sends 
Uriel to warn Noah of the coming flood, Gabriel to destroy the 
giants, Raphael to take charge of Azazel, and Michael to deal with 

'Philo, On the Giants 6. 

^H. G. Liddell, R. Scott and H. Drissler, A Greek-English Lexicon. Based on the 
German Work of Francis Passow (New York: Harper and Bros., 1879) 292. [Not in 
recent edition.] 

R. H. Charles, Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament (Oxford: 
Clarendon, 1913), 2. 163; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Oxford: 
Blackwell, 1965) 618-19. M. Rist ("Enoch, Book of," IDB 2 [1962] 104) would date 
this section later, ca. 100 B.C. In any case, fragments of this part of Enoch have been 
found at Qumran: see O. Betz, "Dead Sea ScroUs," IDB 1 (1962) 796; J. T. Milik, The 
Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qwnran Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976) 6, 
139-40, 164. 


Semjaza and his fellows. The instructions given to Raphael and 
Michael are of particular interest: 

Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into darkness: and make an 
opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And 
place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, 
and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see 
light. And on the great day of judgment he shall be cast into the fire. 
(/ Enoch 10:4-6) 

Go, bind Semjaza and his associates who have united themselves 
with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their 
uncleanness. And when their sons [the giants] have slain one another, 
and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them 
fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of 
their judgment and of the consummation, till the judgment that is for 
ever and ever is consummated. (/ Enoch 10:11-12) 

Thus Enoch presents an interpretation of Gen 6 in terms of 
angelic cohabitation with women, resulting in gigantic offspring. The 
angels who sinned are bound to await the final judgment. 


The Book of Jubilees [Jub.] is an expanded retelling of Genesis 
and part of Exodus. It provides an elaborate chronology based on 
sabbatical cycles and jubilees, plus a theory that the patriarchs ob- 
served various Mosaic regulations even before they were given at 
Sinai. Charles and Tedesche date the book in the last half of the 2nd 
century B.C., while Eissfeldt puts it about 100 B.C. More recently 
VanderKam has presented detailed arguments for a somewhat earlier 
date, around 150 b.c.^ 

Though apparently dependent on / Enoch or one of its sources, 
Jub. differs from Enoch on the reason for the angels' descent to earth: 

. . . and he called his name Jared; for in his days the angels of the Lord 
descended on the earth, those who are named the Watchers, that they 
should instruct the children of men, and that they should do judgment 
and uprightness on the earth. (Jub. 4:15) 

Chap. 5 follows with an expansion of Gen 6, in which these Watchers 
cohabit with women and the offspring produced are giants. The 
sinning angels are not named, but God's response to their sin is 

Xharles, Pseudepigrapha 6; S. Tedesche, "Jubilees, Book of," IDB 2 (1962) 1002; 
Eissfeldt, OT Introduction 608; J. C. VanderKam, Textual and Historical Studies in 
the Book of Jubilees (HSM 14; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1977) 283-84. 


And against the angels whom He had sent upon the earth, He was 
exceedingly wroth, and He gave command to root them out of all their 
dominion, and He made us [one of the good angels is speaking] to bind 
them in the depths of the earth, and behold they are bound in the midst 
of them and are (kept) separate. {Jub. 5:6) 

Other Pseudepigrapha 

The other works included in Jewish pseudepigrapha which refer 
to this view are late. Both 2 Enoch 18 and 2 Baruch [fi«r] 56 mention 
the angels of Gen 6 as being punished by torment, the former indicat- 
ing that they are under earth, the latter as being in chains. 

The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs [T. 12 Patr.] make 
reference to this view more than once, but the date and nature of 
these works are problematical since they are Chritian in their present 
form. Whether the Testaments are basically pre-Christian with some 
later editing, or basically Christian using some older Jev^ish materials, 
is still hotly debated. '° In any case T. Reub. 5:5-7 presents an 
unusual variant of the supernatural view: the actual cohabitation is 
between humans, but the spiritual influence of the angels produces 

Flee, therefore, fornication, my children, and command your wives and 
your daughters, that they adorn not their heads and faces to deceive 
the mind: because every woman who uses these wiles hath been reserved 
for eternal punishment. For thus they allured the Watchers who were 
before the flood; for as these continually beheld them, they lusted after 
them, and they conceived the act in their mind; for they changed 
themselves into the shape of men, and appeared to them when they 
were with their husbands. And the women lusting in their minds after 
their forms, gave birth to giants, for the Watchers appeared to them as 
reaching even unto heaven. 

T. Naph. 3:3-5 gives a supernatural interpretation of Gen 6:1-4 
in a grouping of examples which parallels those in Jude and 2 Pet: 

The Gentiles went astray, and forsook the Lord, and changed their 
order, and obeyed stocks and stones, spirits of deceit. But ye shall not 
be so, my children, recognizing in the firmament, in the earth, and in 
the sea, and in all created things, the Lord who made all things, that ye 
become not as Sodom, which changed the order of nature. In like 
manner the Watchers also changed the order of their nature, whom the 
Lord cursed at the flood, on whose account he made the earth without 
inhabitants and fruitless. 

'"Eissfeldt, OT Introduction 631-36; M. Smith, "Testaments of the Twelve Patri- 
archs," /Dfi4 (1962) 575-79; M. E. Stone, "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs," IDB 
Supp (1976) 877. 



Among the materials found in caves near the Dead Sea, both the 
Genesis Apocryphon [IQapGen] and the Damascus Document [CD] 
refer to the supernatural interpretation. The former is a retelling of 
Genesis in popular style, extant only in one fragmented MS, which has 
been dated paleographically to the late 1st century B.C. or early 1st 
century a.d." On the basis of a detailed comparison of contents with 
/ Enoch and Jub., Vermes believes that apGen is older and a source 
for both, "the most ancient midrash of all." Fitzmyer disagrees, 
dating apGen in the same era as the extant ms.'^ Certainly it is no 
later than the Roman destruction of Qumran about a.d. 68. In what 
little remains of the scroll's col. 2, Lamech is fearful that his wife's 
pregnancy (her child will be Noah) is due to "the Watchers and the 
Holy Ones," but she stoutly denies it. 

The CD is a sort of covenant-renewal document: the history of 
the community (presumably Qumran) is sketched, and its members 
are exhorted to covenant faithfulness. Cross and Vermes date the 
work to about 100 b.c.'^ Speaking of the "guilty inclination" and 
"eyes of lust," the author says: 

For through them, great men have gone astray and mighty heroes have 
stumbled from former times until now. Because they walked in the 
stubbornness of their heart the Heavenly Watchers fell; they were 
caught because they did not keep the commandments of God. And 
their sons also fell who were tall as cedar trees and whose bodies were 
Hke mountains. (CD 2:16-19) 


In his treatise On the Giants, the Alexandrian Jewish philosopher 
Philo (20 B.C. -A.D. 50)''' quotes the Old Greek version of this passage 
with the readings dyyeXoi loO BeoO and yiyavTec;. Unfortunately 
Philo is not always a clear writer. Apparently he takes the literal 
meaning of the verses to refer to angels and women since, imediately 
after quoting Gen 6:2, he says: 

It is Moses' custom to give the name of angels to those whom other 

J. A. Fitzmyer, The Genesis Apocryphon of Qumran Cave I: A Commentary 
(BibOr 18A; Rome: Biblical Institute, 1971) 15. 

G. Vermes, Scripture and Tradition in Judaism: Haggadic Studies (SPB 4; 
Leiden: Brill, 1973) 124-25; Fitzmyer, Genesis Apocryphon 16-19. 

F. M. Cross, Jr., The Ancient Library of Qumran and Modern BibUcal Studies 
(rev. ed.; Garden City: Doubleday, 1961) 81-82n; G. Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in 
English (Baltimore: Penguin, 1968) 95. 

All dates are approximate throughout. 


philosophers call demons [or spirits], souls that is which fly and hover 
in the air. And let no one suppose that what is here said is a myth.'^ 

After a lengthy discussion arguing for the existence of non-corporeal 
spirits, however, Philo proceeds to allegorize the passage: 

So, then, it is no myth at all of giants that he [Moses] sets before us; 
rather he wishes to show you that some men are earth-born, some 
heaven-born, and some God-born.'^ 

Roughly speaking, these three categories Philo enumerates correspond 
to people primarily concerned about the physical, the intellectual and 
the mystical, respectively. Philo's sympathies definitely lie with the 
second and third. He has no interest in stories about physical mating, 
and is probably best understood as rejecting the literal meaning of 
this passage. '^ If so, we have in Philo a literal exegesis which gives the 
supernatural interpretation and an allegorical exegesis which provides 
a very unusual sort of nonsupernatural view. 


From late in the 1st century a.d. comes the Jewish Antiquities of 
Flavius Josephus (a.d. 37-100). The first eleven books of the Antiqui- 
ties retell the biblical history with various elaborations based on 
Jewish traditions. In book one, just before recounting the flood, 
Josephus says: 

For many angels of God now consorted with women and begat sons 
who were overbearing and disdainful of every virtue, such confidence 
had they in their strength; in fact, the deeds that tradition ascribes to 
them resemble the audacious exploits told by the Greeks of the 

In addition to this clearly supernatural interpretation, Franxman 
sees evidence for a nonsupernatural interpretation involving Sethite- 
Cainite intermarriage: in the immediately preceding sentences of 
Josephus, we are told that the Sethites continue virtuous for seven 
generations and then turn away from God and become zealous for 
wickedness, a feature of later Sethite-Cainite views. '^ Yet nothing 
about intermarriage of Sethites and Cainites appears in the extant 

''Philo, Giants 6-7. 

'^Ibid., 60. 

"See S. Sandmel, Philo of Alexandria (New York: Oxford, 1979) 150, 162, who 
notes that Philo denies the historicity of Sarah and Hagar in On Mating 180. 

'^Josephus, Antiquities 1.73. 
T. W. Franxman, Genesis and the 'Jewish Antiquities' of Flavius Josephus 
(BibOr 35; Rome: Biblical Institute, 1979) 80-81. 


copies of Josephus, so Franxman must postulate this in a non-extant 
source he used. 

Tar gum Pseudo- Jonathan 

It is difficult to know where to place the targumim. These 
Aramaic translations of Scripture (often paraphrases or even commen- 
taries) have an oral background in the synagogue services of pre- 
Christian times, but their extant written forms seem to be much 
later. ^° Among these, the Targum Pseudo- Jonathan [Tg. Ps.-J.'\ pre- 
sents at least a partially supernatural interpretation. Although in its 
extant form this targum is later than the rise of Islam in the 7th 
century a.d., early materials also appear in it.^' In view of the 
rabbinic reactions to the supernatural view by the 2nd century a.d. 
(see below), our passage is probably one of its early parts: 

And it came to pass when the sons of men began to multiply on the 
face of the ground, and beautiful daughters were born to them, that the 
sons of the great ones saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, 
with eyes painted and hair curled, walking in nakedness of flesh, and 
they conceived lustful thoughts; and they took them wives of all they 
chose. . . . Shamhazai and Azael fell from heaven and were on earth in 
those days, and also after that, when the sons of the great ones came in 
unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them: the same 
are called men of the world, the men of renown. {Tg. Ps.-J. 6:1-2, 4) 

Here the phrase "sons of the great ones" may reflect a nonsuper- 
natural interpretation, but the reference to Shamhazai and Azael 
falling from heaven certainly does not. The names given are close to 
those in / Enoch, considering that the latter has gone through two 
translations to reach its extant Ethiopic version. Notice also that the 
Nephilim are here identified with the angels rather than their offspring 
as in Enoch, Jub., and Josephus. 

As we shall see below, the supernatural interpretation was even- 
tually superceded in Jewish circles by a nonsupernatural one, probably 
in the century following the fall of Jerusalem. Yet remnants of the 
former can still be seen in later rabbinic literature. 

Early Christian References 

Passing over the NT for the time being, we find abundant early 
evidence for the supernatural interpretation in Christian circles. Justin 
Martyr (a.d. 100-160) says, in his Second Apology: 

J. Bowker, The Targums and Rabbinic Literature (Camhndge: University, 1969) 
14; M. McNamara, Targum and Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972) 86-89. 
Bowker, Targums 26; McNamara, Targum and Testament 178. 


God, when He had made the whole world, and subjected things earthly 
to man, . . . committed the care of men and of all things under heaven 
to angels whom He appointed over them. But the angels transgressed 
this appointment, and were captivated by love of women, and begat 
children who are those that are called demons. ^^ 

Justin goes on to tell how the human race was subdued to the angels 
by being introduced to magic, fear, false worship and lust, and how 
they were trained in all sorts of wickedness. Justin accepts the pagan 
mythologies as having some historical veracity, describing the acts of 
these angels and demons rather than the gods. 

Clement of Alexandria (a.d. 150-215) alludes to the supernatural 
interpretation in his Miscellanies: ". . . the angels who had obtained 
the superior rank, having sunk into pleasures, told to the women the 
secrets which had come to their knowledge. . . ."^^ 

TertuUian (a.d. 160-220) speaks of the incident several times. In 
On Idolatry 9, he says that "those angels, the deserters from God, the 
lovers of women," revealed astrology to mankind. In his work 
Against Marcion 5.18 he argues that Paul's reference to "spiritual 
wickedness in the heavenlies" (Eph 6:12) does not refer to Marcion's 
wicked creator-god, but to the time "when angels were entrapped into 
sin by the daughters of men." And in his treatise On the Veiling of 
Virgins 7, he argues that Paul's reference to veiling "because of the 
angels" (1 Cor 11:10) refers to this incident. 

Lactantius (a.d. 240-320), in his Divine Institutes 2.15, teaches 
that God sent the angels to earth to teach mankind and protect them 
from Satan, but that Satan "enticed them to vices, and polluted them 
by intercourse with women." This is closer to Jub. than Enoch. The 
sinning angels, Lactantius continues, could not return to heaven, so 
they became demons of the air. Their half-breed offspring could not 
enter hell (hades?), so they became demons of the earth. All of this 
Lactantius connects with pagan mythology and the occult. 

Similar materials are found in the Clementine Homilies 8.11-15 
and the Instructions of Commodianus (chap. 3), neither of which is 
likely to predate the 3rd century.^" The Homilies add the unusual idea 
that the angels had first transformed themselves into jewels and 
animals to convict mankind of covetousness. Perhaps this was derived 
from some of the stories about Zeus, as the writer says: "These things 
also the poets among yourselves, by reason of fearlessness, sing, as 
they befell, attributing to one the many and diverse doings of all" 

^^Justin, Apology 2.5. 
"Clement, Miscellanies 5.1.10. 

"^"See the relevant articles in F. L. Cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian 
Church (London: Oxford. 1958). 



The earliest extant examples of the nonsupernatural interpreta- 
tions of Gen 6:2, 4 come from the 1st century a.d. and thus are later 
than the earliest specimens of the supernatural interpretation. Since 
all come centuries after Genesis was written, it is not possible to be 
sure which is the oldest. 

First Century Sources 

As mentioned previously, Philo prefers an allegorical interpreta- 
tion of Gen 6:1-4 in which God-oriented persons (sons of God) may 
fall and become earth-centered (beget giants, the "earth-born") by 
consorting with vice and passion (daughters of men). 

The Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo is another work which 
retells biblical history, in this case from Adam to Saul. By an 
unknown writer, it was attributed to Philo because it circulated with 
his genuine works. It is usually dated shortly before or after the fall of 
Jerusalem. ^^ Chap. 3 begins: 

And it came to pass when men had begun to multiply on the earth, that 
beautiful daughters were born unto them. And the sons of God saw the 
daughters of men that they were exceeding fair, and took them wives of 
all that they had chosen. And God said: My spirit shall not judge 
among all these men forever, because they are of flesh; but their years 
shall be 120. {Bib. Ant. 3:1-2) 

On the surface this does not appear to be an interpretation at all, 
and perhaps it is not. The writer does not mention the Nephilim, but 
this may be merely a case of epitomizing. Yet the rendering of the 
biblical XW (Gen 6:3) by "judge" at least foreshadows Targum Neofiti, 
to be discussed below. Likewise the rabbinical exegesis of Gen 
6:2 — "they took wives of all they chose" — is anticipated in an earlier 
remark of Pseudo-Philo: "And at that time, when they had begun to 
do evil, every one with his neighbor's wife, defiling them, God was 
angry" (2:8). 

Second Century Sources 

Three translations of the OT into Greek were made in the 2nd 
century a.d.: one by Aquila, a student of R. Akiba, about a.d. 130;^^ 
another by Symmachus, said to be an Ebionite, late in the century;^^ 

G. W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah 
(Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 265-68. 

^"■J. W. Wevers, "Aquila's Version," IDB 1 (1962) 176. 
"j. W. Wevers, "Symmachus," IDB 4 (1962) 476. 


and a third by Theodotion, of whom Uttle is known. Theodotion 
reads uioi xou 0eoC and yiyavxeg hke many mss of the LXX, adding 
nothing new and not clearly either supernatural or nonsupernatural.^* 
Aquila has uioi t(ov Gecov, which looks more like an attempt to avoid 
the problem of the one true God having sons than it does a preference 
for either of the interpretations we are considering. Symmachus has 
uioi T(ov 5uvaaT£uovT0)v, meaning either "sons of the powerful" or 
"sons of the rulers," rather like the targumic views to be discussed 
below and that of Meredith Kline. ^^ For the Nephilim, Aquila has 
eKiTrinxovTet;, meaning "those who fall upon," which might be either 
supernatural "those who fall upon (earth)" or nonsupernatural "those 
who attack." Symmachus has Piaioi, "violent ones." Both the second 
translation of Aquila's rendering and that of Symmachus fit Gen 
6:11 — "the earth was filled with violence." 

The Tar gum im 

Targum Neofiti [Targ. Neof.] is the only complete extant ms of 
the Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch. The ms is from the 16th 
century, but its text has been variously dated from the 1st to the 4th 
centuries a.d.^° In place of the Hebrew DTlVxn "'33 is the Aramaic ""ID 
XTn, "sons of the judges," using a cognate noun to the verb pi'' 
appearing in the MT of Gen 6:3.^' Nephilim is rendered by n"'1D''J, 
"warriors." The text of the targum seems to reflect a nonsupernatural 
interpretation, unless we press the last sentence of 6:4 — "these are the 
warriors that (were there) from the beginning of the world, warriors 
of wondrous renown" — so as to exclude human beings. However, the 
MS has many marginal notes, which presumably represent one or 
more other mss of the Palestinian Targum. ^^ One such note occurs at 
6:4 and reads: "There were warriors dwelling on earth in those days, 
and also afterwards, after the sons of the angels had joined (in 
wedlock) the daughters of the sons."" Thus the text of Targ. Neof. 
seems to be nonsupernatural while a marginal note is clearly super- 

"*See the lower set of footnotes in the Gottingen LXX for the readings of these 
other Greek versions. 

"M. G. Kline, "Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4," IVTJ 24 (1962) 187-204. 

'°See Bowker, Targums 16-20; McNamara, Targum and Testament 186; M. McNa- 
mara, "Targum," IDB Supp (1976) 858-59; R. LeDeaut, "The Current State of Tar- 
gumic Studies," BTB 4 (1974) 5, 22-24. 

''a. Diez Macho, Neophyti I: Genesis (Madrid and Barcelona: Consejo Superior 
de Investigaciones Cientificas, 1968) 33, 511. 

"S. Lund and J. Foster, Variant Versions of Targumic Traditions Within Codex 
Neofiti I (SBLASP 2; Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1977) 12, 14; our passage and marginal 
note are not discussed. 

"Diez Macho, Neophyti 511. 


The Tar gum of Onqelos [7g. Onq.l became the official targum to 
the Pentateuch for Judaism. According to the Babylonian Talmud 
[Bab. Talm.] (Meg. 3a) it was composed early in the 2nd century a.d., 
but this seems to be a confusion with the Greek translation of Aquila. 
Although the relations between the various targumim are complicated 
by mutual influence in transmission, Onq. was probably completed 
before a.d. 400 in Babylonia using Palestinian materials as a basis. ^"^ 
In our passage Onq. reads X''D"I3T "'3D, "sons of the great ones," 
probably referring to rulers. ^^ For Nephilim it has K''"1D"'J. Etheridge's 
translation "giants" for this is possible, but not necessary, as Aberbach 
and Grossfeld prefer "mighty ones."^^ 

Christian Interpretations 

Meanwhile, the nonsupernatural interpretation begins to show 
up in Christian circles. Julius Africanus (a.d. 160-240) wrote a 
History of the World 'which has survived only in fragments quoted by 
later authors. In one of these Julius says: 

When men multiplied on earth, the angels of heaven came together 
with the daughters of men. In some copies I found "sons of God." 
What is meant by the Spirit in my opinion, is that the descendants of 
Seth are called the sons of God on account of the righteous men and 
patriarchs who have sprung from him, even down to the Saviour 
Himself; but that the descendants of Cain are named the seed of man, 
as having nothing divine in them. . . ." 

There is no context to work with here, but it sounds as though Julius 
has derived this view on his own. 

Augustine (a.d. 354-430) discusses Gen 6:1-4 in his City of God. 
His basic approach is seen in 15.22: 

It was the order of this love, then, this charity or attachment, which the 
sons of God disturbed when they forsook God and were enamored of 
the daughters of men. And by these two names (sons of God and 
daughters of men) the two cities [city of God and city of man] are 
sufficiently distinguished. For though the former were by nature chil- 
dren of men, they had come into possession of another name by grace. 

'''Bowker, Targums 22-26; McNamara, Targum and Testament 173-76. 

"a. Sperber, The Bible in Aramaic: I: Targum Onkelos (Leiden: Brill, 1959) 9. 

'*J. W. Etheridge, The Targums of Onkelos and of Jonathan ben Uzziel on the 
Pentateuch with the Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum (London: 1862-65; reprinted 
New York: Ktav, 1968), 1. 46; M. Aberbach and B. Grossfeld, Targum Onkelos to 
Genesis (New York: Ktav, 1982) 52. 

''a. Roberts, J. Donaldson, A. C. Coxe and A. Menzies, The Anle-Nicene Fathers 
(Buffalo: Christian Literature, 1886), 6. 131. 


Augustine goes on (15.23) to admit that angels do appear in bodies, 
and that stories were at his time being told of women being assaulted 
by sylvans and fauns, but he says "I could by no means believe that 
God's holy angels could at that time have so fallen." He interprets 
2 Pet 2:4 as referring to the primeval fall of Satan. The word "angel," 
he points out, can with scriptural warrant be applied to men. Besides, 
the giants were already on earth when these things happened, and so 
not the offspring of the sons of God and daughters of men. Also the 
giants need not be of enormous stature but only so large as sometimes 
seen today. God's response in Gen 6:3 is directed against men, so that 
is what the "angels" were. He dismisses with contempt "the fables of 
those scriptures which are called apocryphal." 

Rabbinic Literature 

The Mishnah is a concise topical summary of the oral rabbinic 
legal traditions written about a.d. 200. It contains no reference to 
Gen 6:1-4 to the best of my knowledge, but this is not surprising in 
view of the preponderance of halakah rather than haggadah. 

The Midrash Rabbah [Midr. Rab.] is a collection of interpretive 
comments on the Pentateuch and the five Megillot (Ruth, Esther, 
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Lamentations). The earliest of 
these is Genesis Rabbah [Gen. Rab.], which Strack puts "not much 
later than the Palestinian Talmud" (ca. a.d. 400) and Epstein sees as 
mainly from the 3rd century a.d.^* We have an extended discussion of 
our passage in Gen. Rab. 26.5-7. R. Simeon b. Yohai (a.d. 130-160) 
is quoted as identifying the "sons of God" as "sons of nobles" and as 
cursing all who call them "sons of God." The reason for their title 
"sons of God" is their long lifespans. To explain why marrying 
women would be such a sin as the context indicates, R. Judan (a.d. 
325) explains that riDU, "beautiful" (Gen 6:2), should be taken as a 
singular adjective: the noblemen enjoyed the bride before the bride- 
groom could. The phrase "they were beautiful" meant they took 
virgins; "they took wives for themselves" meant they took married 
women; "whomever they chose" meant they indulged in homosexuality 
and bestiality. Regarding the interpretation of "Nephilim," the rabbis 
apparently used Num 13:33, where the term is associated with the 
Anakim at the time of the Exodus. With this hint and the aid of Deut 
2:10-11, 20-21, they obtained five other names for the Nephilim by 
which to describe them using etymological word-play. Two of these 
are rather supernatural sounding: "Gibborim: . . . the marrow of each 
one's thigh bone was eighteen cubits long"; "Anakim: . . . their necks 

^*H. L. Strack, Introduction to Talmud and Midrash (Philadelphia: J PS. 1931) 
218, 65; I. Epstein, "Midrash," IDB 3 (1962) 376. 


reached the globe of the sun." The term "Nephilim" is understood as 
teaching that "they hurled (l'7"'Dn) the world down, themselves fell 
0'7D3) from the world, and filled the world with abortions (D"''7''D3) 
through their immorality." 

A few scattered references occur in the Babylonian Talmud, a 
compilation of the Mishnah and its commentary finished in the 6th 
century a.d. A relatively clear allusion to the nonsupernatural view 
occurs in Sanh. 108a, in a context of the corruption of the generation 
at the time of the flood. R. Jose (a.d. 130-160) is quoted: 

They waxed haughty only on account of covetousness of the eyeball, 
which is like water, as it is written. And they took wives from all they 
chose. Therefore he punished them by water, which is like the eyeball, 
as it is written. All the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and 
the windows of heaven were opened. 

There is a word-play here on I'i?, which can mean either "fountain" or 
"eye." The main point, however, is that the punishment was designed 
to fit the crime. Thus those who died in the flood are understood to 
be those who took the wives. If the attribution to R. Jose here is 
trustworthy, then this view was in circulation by the middle of the 
2nd century a.d., in agreement with the testimony of Symmachus and 
Gen. Rab. 

Elsewhere in the Talmud there are scattered remnants of the 
supernatural view. Yoma 67b refers to the scapegoat being called 
Azazel because it atones for the "affair of Uza and Aza^el," probably 
a reference to the Shamhazai and Azael of 1 Enoch and Tg. Ps.-J.^^ 
Nid. 61a speaks of an Ahijah, son of Shamhazai. 


The supernatural interpretation clearly existed before NT times, 
as did Philo's peculiar nonsupernatural view. Whether or not the later 
rabbinic view (that the sons of God were judges or noblemen) or the 
later Christian view (that the sons of God were Sethites) existed at 
this time, we cannot say, but there is no positive evidence for them. 

What does the NT have to say? Does it refer to Gen 6:2, 4 at all? 
If so, how does it interpret the passage? First, unlike hundreds of 
other OT passages, the NT nowhere explicitly quotes this passage. 
Any NT reference will therefore have to be merely an allusion. What 
will count as an allusion? Proponents of a nonsupernatural view will 
be at something of a disadvantage: references to the wickedness of 
men at the flood are not decisive in favor of the nonsupernatural 

"L. Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: JPS, 1937), 5. 152, explains 
how "Shamhazai" may be derived from "Uza." 


view, but references to wicked angels will have to be assigned to some 
other event if this view is to stand. 

2 Pet 2:4 

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into 
hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment . . . 

Is this a reference to Gen 6 or to the primeval fall of Satan 
before Eden as proposed by Augustine? This example precedes a 
reference to the flood and to Sodom and Gomorrah, so the order 
would be chronological in either case. It is given as an example of 
judgment to the readers of the epistle, and examples, when not 
explained, can be presumed well-known to the original readers. The 
other two examples are both well-known because they occur in Scrip- 
ture. The primeval fall, however, would be almost totally inference, 
whereas the supernatural view would see this as a popular understand- 
ing of Scripture at the time. Certainly some measure of popularity is 
to be inferred from its occurrence in the pseudepigrapha. Dead Sea 
Scrolls, Philo and Josephus. 

The word "pits" (aipoic;) is a variant; some mss read aeipaig, 
"chains." Either word would fit the description of the angels' punish- 
ment in / Enoch and Jub., but this must be a new revelation (which 
happens to match an old view of Gen 6!) on the nonsupernatural 
view. Similarly for the details about "darkness" and the angels' being 
"reserved for judgment." The verb translated "cast into hell" is lap- 
tapoo), derived from Tartarus, "a subterranean place lower than 
Hades where divine punishment was meted out.""*" 

This passage seems strongly to support the supernatural interpre- 
tation of Gen 6, even though it raises problems regarding the extra 
detail it shares with Enoch and Jub. not found in Genesis. We will 
address this question later. 

Jude 6 

And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their 
proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the 
judgment of the great day. 

Jude 14-15 contains a quotation that appears almost word-for- 
word in 7 Enoch 1:9,'*' so it is difficult to argue that Jude knew 
nothing of 1 Enoch 6. All the features of Jude 6 fit 1 Enoch better 

'"bagd, 805. 
With attestation in the Qumran fragments; see Mihk, Books of Enoch, on 


than they do Jub., where the angels were on earth before sinning, and 
were even sent there by God. To explain Jude 6 of the primeval fall, 
one must see further new revelation here also, namely that this fall 
involved leaving their oiKrjTTipiov, "dwelling" or "abode." On the 
other hand, this is not necessary for the supernatural view, as the 
angels would at least have to come to earth to get their wives (Gen 
6:2) and their offspring the Nephilim are explicitly said to be "on 
earth" (Gen 6:4). 

In addition, Jude's next example (v 7) of Sodom and Gomorrah 
seems to refer back to this example when it says "they [Sodom and 
Gomorrah] in the same way as these [angels] indulged in gross 
immorality and went after strange flesh." One might seek to avoid 
this by reading "they [the cities around Sodom and Gomorrah] in the 
same way as these [Sodom and Gomorrah] indulged. . . ." But "these" 
is TouToic;, which more naturally refers to the angels (masculine) than 
to Sodom and Gomorrah, as the latter have just been referred to in 
the same verse by the feminine pronoun autdg. Likewise "gross 
immorality" and "strange flesh" are two points of real parallelism 
between the violent homosexuality of Sodom and the angel-human 
liasons of the supernatural interpretation. It seems that Jude 6 strongly 
indicates a supernatural interpretation of Gen 6:1-4. 

/ Cor 11:10 

Therefore the woman ought to have (a symbol of) authority on her 
head, because of the angels. 

This verse has puzzling elements for any interpreter because of 
its briefness and lack of explanation. So little is known about the 
activity of angels that one cannot rule out some obscure allusion to 
the presence of good angels at Christian worship who would be 
offended by unsubmissive women. ''^ Yet one can easily find more 
serious offenses for the angels to be upset about in the Corinthian 
worship services, e.g., misuse of tongues (chaps. 12-14) and disorderly 
conduct at the Lord's Supper (11:17-34). Yet the supernatural inter- 
pretation of Gen 6 would supply an excellent reason why this phrase 
would occur in this context and the statement would become far less 
cryptic. Tertullian so understood the passage by a.d. 200. This context 
might also fit the context tangentially, with woman being made for 
man (v 9) perhaps suggesting she was not made for angels, and the 
veiling indicating she i« under the authority of father or husband. 

''^E.g., R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of / and II Corinthians (Minneapolis: 
Augsburg, 1961) 445. 


/ Pet 3:19-20 

For Christ also died for sins . . . that He might bring us to God, having 
been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the Spirit, in which 
also He went and made proclamation to the spirits (now) in prison, 
who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in 
the days of Noah. . . . 

This, too, is a puzzling passage which bristles with uncertainties 
no matter how one interprets Gen 6:1-4. Yet it seems clearly to point 
to spirits disobedient at the time of Noah. The word "spirit" may 
have been chosen by Peter to picture disembodied men (cf. Luke 8:55; 
Acts 7:59), but it could also refer to or include non-humans. If the 
passage concerns a "descent into hell," the supernatural interpretation 
might at least suggest a rationale for singling out those particular 
spirits associated with the time of Noah: the events of Gen 6:1-4 may 
have been an attempt to thwart or pre-empt the incarnation. By itself 
the passage hardly proves the NT favors the supernatural interpre- 

Matt 22:30 

For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, 
but are like the angels in heaven. 

This is probably the most common passage on which the super- 
natural interpretation is refuted.'*^ It is quite naturally understood to 
teach that angels cannot marry and therefore they never have. Like- 
wise, the terminology recalls Gen 6:2, since "to take a wife to oneself" 
is a standard OT idiom for marriage. But perhaps the term "angels" is 
intentionally qualified by the phrase "in heaven." In the supernatural 
interpretation it was not the angels in heaven that took wives, but 
those who left heaven (cf. Jude 6: "abandoned their abode") and 
came to earth to do so. This would not be so obscure an allusion in 
NT times as it seems to us today if the supernatural interpretation 
were then common knowledge as the evidence indicates. The same 
phrase "in heaven" occurs in the parallel passage in Mark (12:25). It 
does not occur in Luke (20:36), but the context strongly implies good 
angels are in view. 

Other NT Passages 

No other passages strongly favor either interpretation. References 
to the abyss — as an unpleasant abode for demons (Luke 8:31), as a 

'''E.g., Murray, Principles of Conduct 246; Stigers, Genesis 97; C. F. Keil and 
F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch (1875; 
reprinted Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950), 1. 131. 


prison for some sort of supernatural locusts (Rev 9:1-1 1), and as the 
source for the beast (Rev 11:7) — are consistent with either view, 
though somewhat parallel to the binding beneath the earth described 
in 1 Enoch and Jub. So is the reference to the binding of Satan in 
Rev 20. A Sethite-Cainite view of Gen 6:1-4 might serve as a basis 
for Paul's remarks about mixed marriages in 1 Cor 7:9, 15, but these 
could easily be generalized from OT regulations against intermarriage 
with Gentiles. In spite of the interpretation commonly given to Matt 
22:30 and parallels, the evidence seems strong that the NT adopts a 
supernatural interpretation of Gen 6:1-4. 


Here we move from the solid ground of extant sources to the 
thin ice of speculation. Since the authors rarely write anything directly 
about their sources or methods, we are left to inferences from what 
they do write. Patte summarizes the situation nicely for the Qumran 

At first one wonders what is the actual relationship between the biblical 
text quoted and its interpretation. The author is giving us the results of 
his use of Scripture without emphasizing the process itself'''' 

Studies in the NT and the intertestamental literature indicate that this 
situation is not confined to Qumran. 

Several sources for these interpretations can be imagined: (1) pure 
invention; (2) borrowing from another source, whether an earlier 
writing, an oral tradition, or even pagan mythology; (3) extra-biblical 
revelation, whether divine or occult; and (4) influence from other OT 
passages thought to be relevant. This list is probably not exhaustive. 

The first category is doubtless important: new ideas for the 
interpretation of a given passage will continue to arise until at least 
the simpler alternatives are exhausted. Borrowing from an earlier 
written or oral source may also be important. As long as these 
sources are interpretations of the passage at hand, this will merely 
serve to push the origin of the interpretation back into non-extant 
sources. Charles believes this is what happened for our passage in 
1 Enoch, which he attributes to a non-extant Book of Noah.*^ The 
idea that the Jews borrowed from pagan myth is popular among 
liberals. Where Jews believed that the event reported in a pagan myth 
really happened, they might have done so, though this is hard to 
imagine for the Pharisees or Essenes. Indeed, in some of these cases, 
the events reported may actually have happened! 

"""D. Patte, Early Jewish Hermeneutic in Palestine (SBLDS 22; Missoula, MT: 
Scholars, 1975) 303. 

^'Charles, Pseudepigrapha 163. 


Regarding extra-biblical revelation, Patte and Russell believe 
that some of the apocalyptic literature may be based on actual visions 
experienced by the author/^ Whether Patte accepts the miraculous or 
not is not altogether clear: he speaks of these visions as "psychical"'*^ 
yet also as being put together by "creative imagination" from materials 
in the author's memory/* Frederic Gardiner favors earlier unrecorded 
divine revelation as a source for some of the materials in 2 Pet and 

Particulars of their [fallen angels'] history may have been from time to 
time incidentally revealed which have not been mentioned in the volume 
of inspiration, but may nevertheless form a true basis for various 
traditions concerning them. This seems probable from the way in 
which both St. Peter and St. Jude speak of them, citing certain facts of 
the history, not elsewhere revealed, as well-known truths.''^ 

Neither should occult activity be ruled out in some Jewish sectarian 
circles at this period. 

Yet some of the interpretations which we see here may be based 
on other OT passages thought to be relevant to Gen 6:1-4. Both the 
NT and the Jewish literature throughout this period often weave 
together OT passages from various locations. ^° This may even be the 
case when it is not so obvious: 

... in many cases where we cannot understand the reason for a 
targumic interpretation, one should resist the temptation to conclude 
that it is the product of the mere fancy of either the targumist or of the 
community. . . . On the contrary, we should assume that in most 
instances the targumic interpretations are the result of an explanation 
of Scripture by means of Scripture.^' 

This fourth category is the most easily investigated since the OT is 

Consider first the interpretation of DTlVxn ''3D, "sons of God." 
The various interpretations are most easily seen as a combination of 
categories (1) and (4) above, working out the simple alternatives on 
the basis of Scriptural parallels. The phrase occurs in Job 1:6 and 2:2 
in a heavenly context, and Satan is associated with them. Thus the 

■"^Patte, Hermeneutic 182; D. S. Russell, Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyp- 
tic (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1964) 172. 
"^atte, Hermeneutic 183, 201. 
''Ibid., 183. 
F. Gardiner, The Last of the Epistles: A Commentary Upon the Epistle of St. 
Jude (Boston: John P. Jewett, 1856) 72. 

See Patte, Hermeneutic 184, and throughout, on anthological style. 
"ibid., 67. 


supernatural view "angels" arises easily. On the other hand, DTiVx is 
occasionally used of rulers and judges in the OT (e.g., Exod 22:8, 9), 
from which the Jewish nonsupernatural interpretation may be derived. 
It is possible that the targumic rendering "sons of the great ones" in 
Tg. Ps.-J. and Tg. Onq. may have another origin — an etymological 
translation to protect the transcendence of God by denying that he 
has any sons. Philo's mystical and moralizing exegesis of Gen 6:1-4 is 
a general characteristic of his technique. It is borrowed from the 
ethical and anti-historical, anti-physical side of hellenistic Greek 
philosophy. Perhaps it might be said to be influenced by pagan 
mythology by way of negative reaction. The Christian nonsupernatural 
view — "sons of Seth" or believers — is most likely based on the NT use 
of "sons of God" for believers (e.g., in John 1:12), coupled with Gen 
4:26 and 5:24. 

The interpretation of D'Vdj by "giants" is easily understandable 
for both the supernatural and nonsupernatural views. The word 
Nephilim only occurs elsewhere in the OT in Num 13:33, where it is 
associated with the large size of the Anakim. Perhaps the reference 
here to the Israelites being like grasshoppers in their sight explains 
the rabbinic remark {Gen. Rab. 26.7) that the "marrow of each one's 
thigh was eighteen cubits long." If we take the grasshopper's "thigh" 
as one inch long and the human thigh as one cubit long (ca. 18 
inches), the proportion is exact! 

Regarding the binding of the angels mentioned in / Enoch, Jub., 
2 Pet and Jude, this feature may depend on an earlier source going 
back to explicit revelation, or it may be derived from Isa 24:21-22: 

So it will happen on that day, 

That the lord will punish the host of heaven on high 

And the kings of the earth, on earth. 

And they will be gathered together 

Like prisoners in the dungeon [lit. "pit"] 

And will be confined in prison 

And after many days they will be punished. 

We would normally interpret this passage eschatologically because of 
the context. Yet it might be understood as the eschatological punish- 
ment for an earlier sin, especially if we follow the Qumran Isaiah ms 
IQIsa", which reads 1DDX (perfect) instead of the usual 1DDKT (perfect 
with vvflvv), giving a past tense instead of future:" 

They were gathered together . . . 

And will be confined . . . 

And after many days they will be punished. 

"BHK, 64 In. 


In any case the passage refers to the confinement in a pit of what 
appear to be angelic beings, like prisoners (chained?), with an eschato- 
logical punishment after many days. The reference in the context (Isa 
24:18-19) to "windows above" being opened and the earth being split 
is certainly reminiscent of events at the beginning of the flood (Gen 
7:11), though the terminology is not identical. Even if this passage is 
seen as strictly eschatological, its parallels with the flood may have 
suggested a parallel mode of punishment to interpreters favoring a 
supernatural view of Gen 6:1-4. 

Most of the angelic names in Enoch are modeled on the biblical 
angelic names "Michael" and "Gabriel," using the theophoric element 
"El" for God and either angelic spheres of authority or divine 
attributes. ^^ One exception is "Shamhazai," but Ginzberg sees the 
first syllable as UW, "name," a common targumic substitute for the 
divine name. "Azazel," too, is of special interest, and it may suggest 
that other angelic names are derived from OT texts. The name (or 
something close to it) occurs in the scapegoat passage in Lev 16:8. 
One goat is for the lord, the other for Azazel, taking '7TXTJ7 as a 
proper noun instead of a term meaning "entire removal."^'* The word 
may well have been puzzling, and the reference in Lev 17:7 to goats as 
objects of worship might have led early interpreters to speculate that 
there was something supernatural about "Azazel." Charles notes that 
"Dudael," the place of Azazel's binding in / Enoch 10:4, is in the 
wilderness and on "rough and jagged rocks" just like the place to 
which the scapegoat is taken in Tg. Ps.-J.^^ 

Thus it appears that a number of details appearing in the various 
interpretations of Gen 6:2, 4 can be derived — rightly or wrongly — from 
other OT passages. This does not prove that they actually arose in 
this way. 


We have now examined the ancient interpretation of Gen 6:2, 4 
in Jewish literature, in Christian literature and in the NT in particular. 
The earliest extant view is the supernatural one, that the "sons of 
God" were angels and that the "Nephilim" were their gigantic off- 
spring. The sin in this case was the unnatural union between angels 
and humans. Going beyond the text of Genesis, this view pictures the 
offending angels as being bound and cast into dark pits until the day 
of judgment. This interpretation seems to have been popular at the 
time of Christ. The nonsupernatural interpretations are not extant 

See Charles, Pseudepigrapha 191; Ginzberg, Legends, 5. 152-53; Milik, Books of 
Enoch, on 4QEn''. 
''BDB, 736. 
Charles, Pseudepigrapha 193. 


until later and take two basic forms which we may for convenience 
label "Jewish" and "Christian." The Jewish view sees the "sons of 
God" as judges or noblemen and the "Nephilim" as violent warriors. 
The sin involved is unrestrained lust, rape, and bestiality. The Chris- 
tian view sees the "sons of God" as Sethites or believers in general, 
the "daughters of men" as Cainites or unbelievers, and the sin as 
mixed marriage. 

After investigating possible NT references to this passage, it 
appears highly likely that the NT does refer to this incident, almost 
certainly in Jude 6 and 2 Pet 2:4. Other passages are less certain, but 
1 Cor 11:10 and Matt 22:30 are probable. Though serious questions 
can be raised whether Matt 22:30 and parallels endorse or oppose the 
supernatural interpretation, Jude and 2 Pet clearly favor the super- 
natural position. 

Do Jude and 2 Pet endorse this interpretation or only mention 
it? One might be inclined to dismiss Jude's reference as an ad 
hominem argument against opponents who accepted the OT pseude- 
pigrapha since he apparently quotes / Enoch 1:9 in v 14 and cites a 
no longer extant portion of the Assumption of Moses in v 9.'^ Yet 
there is no hint in the context that Jude in any way distances himself 
from these citations. In 2 Pet 2, the whole structure of the argument 
(vv 4-9) indicates that Peter endorses the historicity of this angelic 
sin: if God judged those notorious sinners of antiquity, then he will 
judge these current false prophets who engage in similar activities. 

Not only do Jude and 2 Peter seem to endorse the supernatural 
interpretation of Gen 6, they also mention some of the details found 
in / Enoch and Jub. which do not occur in the Genesis account. 
Liberal theologians have no difficulty here, since they treat all of this 
as superstitious nonsense, but how are those who believe in the Bible 
to respond? 

Although part of the evangelical resistance to the supernatural 
interpretation is exegetical and part is theological, some resistance 
seems to be due to rationalistic assumptions. Especially in the fields 
of science, history and Biblical studies, a "minimal-miracle" stance 
may be adopted, if for no other reason than that miracles pose a 
roadblock to investigation. However, whenever a minimal-miracle 
approach begins to produce a crop of problem passages, we should 
consider the possibility that we are wresting Scripture or other data. 

It is also possible that evangelicals along with liberals have 
adopted too readily the enlightenment-evolutionary view that the 

For ancient patristic evidence that this incident appeared in the Assumption of 
Moses in their times, see C. Bigg, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the 
Epistles of St. Peter and St. Jude (ICC; New York: Scribners, 1909) 331; a complete 
list of texts is given in R. H. Charles, The Assumption of Moses (London: Black, 1897) 


ancients were ignorant and superstitious. Perhaps an over-reaction to 
the excesses of the medieval CathoUc Church is also to blame. Of 
course the ancients (except in the case of inspiration) were fallible and 
influenced by the dominant worldviews of their times, but so are we. 
They did not have the leisure, technology, communications, and 
libraries that we have, so we should not expect their scholarship to be 
as impressive as ours. But they weren't fools! When all of human 
history testifies against our times to the reality of the supernatural 
and the occult, we evangelicals (of all people) would be foolish to 
dismiss this testimony out of hand, especially when it corroborates 
biblical testimony. 

May it not be possible that we enlightened, 20th-century Chris- 
tians can learn something positive from the ancient exegetes? Perhaps 
they were right in seeing an angelic incursion in Gen 6:1-4 and we are 
wrong in denying it. Perhaps with a great interest in the supernatural 
and angels some ancient interpreters scoured the Scriptures to locate 
any hints it might contain on this subject. In such a case, they might 
well have reached some valid insights which God preserved by 
inscripturation in the NT. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 37-45 




David L. Turner 

This article continues the summary and evaluation of evangelicals 
and redaction criticism which began in an earlier essay (see GTJ 4 
[1983] 263-88). Recent studies are surveyed, as are recent events in 
the Evangelical Theological Society. The need for careful articulation 
of biblical inerrancy in the light of the synoptic phenomena continues 
to exist. The hermeneutics statement of the International Council on 
Biblical Inerrancy (1982) is a step in the right direction. However, 
further clarification and refinement are needed if evangelicals are to 
avoid doctrinal deviation, on the one hand, and unnecessary division 
on the other. 


A STUDY in the last issue of GTJ surveyed and evaluated impor- 
tant aspects of evangelical redaction criticism since N. B. Stone- 
house.' The present essay is essentially a brief update on recent 
developments in evangelicalism, many of which center in the Evan- 
gelical Theological Society and the commentary of R. H. Gundry on 
Matthew.^ Three topics will be surveyed: (1) the recently published 
third volume of Gospel Perspectives, (2) the dialogue between Gundry 
and two critics in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 
(26:1, 1983), and (3) the developments at the 1983 Evangelical Theo- 
logical Society annual meeting. 

D. L. Turner, "Evangelicals, Redaction Criticism, and the Current Inerrancy 
Crisis," G77 4 (1983) 263-88. N. B. Stonehouse, G. R. Osborne, and R. H. Gundry are 
the men whose approaches are evaluated in this study. 

Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1982). 



The Tyndale House (Cambridge, England) Gospels Research 
Project has now produced its third volume of studies in the gospels.^ 
In view of Gundry's position that Matthew is midrashic, this volume 
is especially timely and noteworthy. In general, the various contribu- 
tors to this book believe that midrash is a very complex matter, 
poorly understood by many NT scholars. The essays in the volume 
serve to introduce the various nuances of this word as used to describe 
the historiography of extra-biblical Jewish literature. Further, several 
of the contributors come to specific conclusions especially relevant to 
the questions of historicity and inerrancy in the gospels. 

R. Bauckham's study of Pseudo-Philo'' has convinced him that 
there is no creatio ex nihilo of narrative involved. Bauckham states, 
"Pseudo-Philo's ingenuity in this field of exegesis is displayed not in 
creating events to fit prophecies, but in finding prophecies to fit 
events."^ Gundry seems to think that Matthew has done just the 
opposite in some places in his gospel.^ While Bauckham acknowledges 
that the possibility exists that the gospels could contain substantial 
non-historical sections, he believes that this does not fit in with litera- 
ture such as Pseudo-Philo's writings which adds only "relatively minor 
embellishments of stories whose main outlines already existed." 

The implications of F. F. Bruce's study of biblical exposition in 
the Qumran materials^ are similar. Bruce summarizes exegetical prin- 
ciples and procedures evident in the Qumran materials and also pro- 
vides some illustrations of Qumran biblical exegesis. One of his 
concluding observations is that 

It was the Christ-event that made the OT a new book to the early 
Christians: their new interpretation of the OT did not create the Christ- 
event or the narratives in which they recorded it. In so far as the 
Qumran literature provides an analogy, it lends no support to the view 
that the evangelists engaged in free redactional activity uninhibited by 
historical fact.'^ 

R. T. France and D. Wenham, eds.. Studies in Midrash and Historiography, 
vol. 3 of Gospel Perspectives (Sheffield: JSOT, 1983). 

■"R. Bauckham, "The Liber Antiquitatum BihUcarwn of Pseudo-Philo and the 
Gospels as Midrash," pp. 33-76. 

^Ibid., 60, cf. 64, where it is stated that there is no precedent in Jewish "midrashic" 
literature for the creation of events to fulfill prophecies. 

'Gundry, Matthew, pp. 37, 632-33. 

'Bauckham, "Liher Aniquitatum . . . ," p. 63. 

*F. F. Bruce, "Biblical Exposition at Qumran," pp. 77-98. 

'ibid., pp. 97-98. The implications of this statement appear to be quite negative 
for Gundry's approach to Matthew. Interestingly, Bruce had earlier written some very 
positive remarks about Gundry's commentary which appear on the back of the com- 
mentary's dust jacket. 

turner: the debate continues 39 

Bruce 's conclusion appears to deny that one finds the type of "mid- 
rash" in the Qumran documents that Gundry attempts to find in 

R. T. France's contribution to Gospel Perspectives 111 is also 
pertinent. '° He denies that there is any significant tendency in Jewish 
literature, apart from two examples, to create or embellish narratives 
found in Scripture." In his view there was no uniform Jewish histori- 
ography in the early Christian period'^ such as would be demanded 
by Gundry 's view of Matthew.'^ France also cautions against the 
excessive use of "parallels" between Jewish literature and the NT. The 
time interval between the OT and the Jewish literature under con- 
sideration is much greater than that between Christ's earthly ministry 
and the writing of the gospels.'" A comparison of fulfillment formulas 
in 1 Maccabees and Matthew results in France's conclusion that both 
have an interest which is "quite compatible with the historical report- 
ing of events."'^ It is evident that these conclusions run against the 
grain of Gundry's approach to Matthew. 

D. J. Moo's study also calls attention to the same distinction 
between rabbinic and NT exegesis of the OT noted by France: the NT 
is influenced by very recent events.'^ Moo believes that there are more 
differences than similarities when one compares "midrash," as the 
term is used today, and the use of the OT in Matt 27:3-10. He views 
the term "midrash" as inappropriate for Matt 27:3-10, if the term 
refers to the creative influence of the OT on tradition.'^ 

P. B. Payne has contributed a study to this volume which specif- 
ically criticizes Gundry's view of Matthew.'* Payne's lengthy evalua- 
tion is quite critical of Gundry for reasons which were advanced by 
other contributors to the volume. Specifically, Payne convincingly 

R. T. France, "Jewish Historiography, Midrash, and the Gospels," pp. 99-127. 
"Ibid., p. 119. 
'^Ibid., p. 120. 
Gundry (Matthew, pp. 634-35) suggests that Matthew's readers were familiar 
with a historiography which mixed actual events and unhistorical embellishments. 
France's conclusions appear to deny this. 

'""France, "Jewish Historiography," pp. 120-23. 
Ibid., p. 122. Along this line attention should also be directed to France's earlier 
study, "Scripture, Tradition, and History in the Infancy Narratives of Matthew," in 
Gospel Perspectives, vol. II, ed. R. T. France and D. Wenham (Sheffield: JSOT, 1981) 
239-66. In this study France affirms not only the historicity of Matthew's infancy 
narratives, but also that such historicity is an essential foundation of Matthew's overall 

'*D. J. Moo, "Tradition and Old Testament in Matthew 27:3-10," pp. 157-75, see 
especially p. 167. 
"ibid., p. 168. 
P. B. Payne, "Midrash and History in the Gospels with Special Reference to 
R. H. Gundry's Matthew " ip^. 177-215. 


refutes much of Gundry's evidence for midrashic intent in Matthew.'^ 
Next, he points out the Hterary problems with Gundry's theory that 
Matthew is midrashic.^'' Payne views Gundry's theory as anachronistic 
and emphasizes several differences between Matthew and midrash. 
Overall, this critique is quite telling against Gundry's views, even 
though there are some overstatements.^' 

The upshot of all this is ably summarized by France in a post- 
script.^^ France repeatedly emphasizes that the term "midrash" cannot 
be equated with "creative unhistorical embellishment," which appears 
to be an essential part of Gundry's main thesis. ^^ France concludes: 

All this . . . throws grave doubt on any suggestion, whether ad- 
vanced in the name of 'midrash' or not, that the narration in historical 
form of unhistorical events, whether derived from scriptural meditation 
or from pure imagination, was typical of first-century Jewish literature, 
the more so when it is recent 'events' which are in question. ^'' 

France declares the following syllogism, which fits Gundry's view of 
Matthew fairly well, to be invalid, since both its premises are false: 

Midrash is unhistorical writing in the guise of history. 
The gospels (or parts of them) are midrashic. 

Therefore, the gospels (or parts of them) are not to be taken seriously 
as history. ^^ 


The March 1983 issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theo- 
logical Society featured a debate between Gundry and two critics, 
D. J. Moo and N. L. Geisler. The format involved an initial critique 
and response by Gundry, followed by a rejoinder by the critic and a 
surrejoinder by Gundry. This approach enables the reader almost to 
sit in on a conversation between the two men involved. 

"Ibid., pp. 180-94. 

'"Ibid., pp. 194-209. 
For example, it is doutbful that Gundry views the whole of Matthew as midrashic 
(p. 194), or that Gundry believes that everything in Matthew which does not correspond 
to Mark or Luke is a creative unhistorical embellishment (pp. 209, 211). 

"R. T. France, "Postscript — Where Have We Got To, and Where Do We Go 
From Here?," pp. 289-99. 

"Gundry, Matthew, pp. 628, 637, 639. See also "A Response to Some Criticisms 
of Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art" paper presented at 
E.T.S. 1982 annual meeting, pp. 23, 31. 

"''France, "Postscript," p. 292. 

''Ibid., p. 299. 

turner: the debate continues 41 

Moo's initial critique^^ is mainly methodological, not theological. 
Moo agrees with Gundry on the question of Markan priority, and 
with the corollary that Matthew used Mark." Yet Moo attempts to 
show that Gundry exaggerates the extent of Matthean redaction. He 
also supplies three solid reasons for doubting that Matthew should be 
compared so directly with Jewish midrashim. Moo believes that 
Matthew's concern for "the significance of the space-and-time facticity 
of events"^^ would preclude his writing a gospel like Gundry believes 
he has written. Gundry's initial response to Moo^^ attempts to answer 
some of Moo's specific points and also lists supposed parallels in 
Jewish literature. However, the detailed studies in Gospel Perspec- 
tives HI (which have been summarized above), came to conclusions 
which are the opposite of Gundry's. Moo's rejoinder^" to Gundry's 
response expresses concern over Gundry's complete confidence in 
Markan priority and his reliance upon statistics which are question- 
ably produced. Additionally, Moo shows how some of Gundry's 
"contradictions" can be harmonized while retaining historicity. It is 
emphasized again that Matthew should be compared with Mark and 
Luke rather than with extra-biblical Jewish works. Moo concludes 
that Gundry's position is methodologically unconvincing and theo- 
logically uncomfortable. Gundry's surrejoinder^' traverses once again 
point by point the territory Moo has covered and concludes that 
there is no need to modify the position taken in the commentary. 

Geisler's initial critique^^ is strikingly different from Moo's. He 
insists that a sincere orthodox confession does not guarantee orthodox 
conclusions. In other words, Gundry's official (de jure) affirmation of 
inerrancy is denied in fact {de facto) by Gundry's method. In all this 
the questionable assumption seems to be that belief in the truth of the 

*D. J. Moo, "Matthew and Midrash: An Evaluation of Robert H. Gundry's Ap- 
proach," yfrS 26 (1983) 31-39. 

Ibid., p. 32. It is important to realize, however, that a growing number of NT 
scholars are dissatisfied with the Markan priority approach to the synoptic phenomena. 
For example, a provocative article in the same issue of JETS being considered here 
argues that Gundry's view that "drastic changes" were made from one gospel to another 
is much less likely if Matthean priority is held. According to the author of this article, 
J. Breckenridge, "we seem to have two choices: either opt for Matthean priority and a 
reasonable exercise of form criticism, or accept Markan priority and suffer the con- 
sequences of a more severe redaction criticism." See "Evangelical Implications of 
Matthean Priority," y£rS 26 (1983) 1 17-21, especially p. 121. 
Moo, "Evaluation," p. 39. 
"R. H. Gundry, "A Response to 'Matthew and Midrash,'" y£r5 26 (1983) 41-56. 
D. J. Moo, "Once Again: Matthew and Midrash: A Rejoinder to Robert H. 
Gundry," JETS 26 (1983) 57-70. 

"R. H. Gundry, "A Surrejoinder to Douglas J. Uoo" JETS It (m7>) 71-86. 
"N. L. Geisler, "Methodological Unorthodoxy," y£T5 26 (1983) 87-94. 


entire Bible is identical to belief that everything "reported" in the 
Bible occurred." Gundry's initial response to Geisler^'' points out, 
with a degree of legitimacy, that Geisler has ignored the necessary 
data of the NT phenomena. He convincingly shows that his approach 
is not allegorical, as Geisler has urged. Undaunted, Geisler's rejoinder^^ 
presses the same points made initially. He comes closest to the real 
problem with Gundry's view when he asserts that "Matthew presents 
these events [ = alleged unhistorical embellishments] as history in the 
same way he presents other events as history, with no literary clues 
that they should be taken unhistorically."^^ Geisler also charges that 
Gundry has misused the concept of authorial intent. He concludes by 
asking some very pointed questions about Gundry's views and con- 
clusions on inerrancy. Gundry's surrejoinder expresses the conviction 
that Geisler has missed the point. Additionally, his surrejoinder ex- 
hibits a better understanding of authorial intent than Geisler's rejoin- 
der.^^ Gundry concludes with answers to Geisler's pointed questions, 
even though he correctly concludes that Geisler is bailing him. It 
is disturbing here, however, to see how Gundry attempts to stretch 
the sense of Articles XHI and XIV of the I. C.B.I "Chicago State- 
ment on Biblical Hermeneutics."^^ Here Geisler's concern about evan- 
gelical concession to the subjective "new hermeneutic" appears to be 

From the JETS debate several conclusions can be drawn. It is 
clear from Moo's critique that Gundry's approach is methodologically 
suspect. Granted, proper interpretation of scripture involves recogni- 
tion of a variety of literary forms. Yet a hypothesis about the form or 
genre of a book of Scripture which negates the historicity of events 
which present themselves as historical fact is invalid."*' The available 
data from Matthew, the other gospels, and extra-biblical Jewish liter- 
ature indicates that God did not superintend the writing of such a 
book as Gundry perceives Matthew to be. 

^'ibid., pp. 91-92. 1 have already pointed out why this assumption is questionable. 
See D. L. Turner, "Evangelicals, Redaction Criticism, and the Current Inerrancy 
Crisis," G ry 4 ( 1 983) 284-85. 

"R. H. Gundry, "A Response to Methodological Unorthodoxy," JETS 26 (1983) 

^'N. L. Geisler, "Is There Madness in the Method? A Rejoinder to Robert H. 
Gundry," y£r5 26 (1983) 101-8. 

"Ibid., p. 102. 

"R. H. Gundry, "A Surrejoinder to Norman L. Geisler," yEF^ 26 (1983) 109-15. 

'^Ibid., p. 1 12, compare Geisler, "Rejoinder," pp. 104-5. 

"l have previously alluded to these two articles and their ominous implications for 
Gundry's approach in "Evangelicals . . . and the Inerrancy Crisis," p. 282. The entire 
text of the Chicago Statement has been published in JETS 25 (1982) 397-401. 

"""Geisler, "Methodological Unorthodoxy," p. 94. 

"'See the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, Articles 10, 13, 14. 

turner: the debate continues 43 

RECENT developments: THE 1983 E.T.S. ANNUAL MEETING 

The Evangelical Theological Society met in Dallas, Texas on 
December 15-17, 1983. At this meeting an ad hoc committee, formed 
to propose what E.T.S. should do in light of the current debate, gave 
its report. At the plenary business section this committee presented 
three recommendations. The first was that the E.T.S. executive com- 
mittee appoint a special, broadly-based committee to study the com- 
plexities of the situation and to make recommendations designed to 
meet the long range need of the Society to clarify its doctrinal state- 
ment. The second recommendation from the ad hoc committee ad- 
vocated the adoption of both "Chicago Statements" of the I. C.B.I, 
(on inerrancy and hermeneutics) as interim statements meeting the 
immediate need for E.T.S. to take a clear stance on inerrancy. The 
third recommendation simply was that E.T.S. adopt Robert's Rules 
of Order, Article XIII, section 75, regarding due process for members 
of voluntary organizations whose membership is being challenged. 

Since the third proposal amounted to a constitutional amend- 
ment, it could only be read at the 1983 meeting. It will be discussed 
and voted on at the 1984 meeting. The first two proposals were both 
defeated. The great majority of the Society evidently believed that it 
would be too costly to fund another committee and that the present 
brief doctrinal statement'*^ need not be clarified. Similarly, the pro- 
posal to adopt the I.C.B.I. statements was viewed as an unnecessary 
addition to the doctrinal statement, one which was not framed by 
E.T.S. and which contained ambiguities. Evidently, many believed 
that additional stipulations were unnecessary since the Society's Con- 
stitution already made provision for dealing with members whose 
status was controversial."^ 

At this point in the business meeting a motion was made to the 
effect that E.T.S. go on record as rejecting any position that states 
that a biblical author materially altered or embellished historical tra- 
ditions, or departed from the actuality of events in writing the Bible. 
This motion, obviously aimed at Gundry's position on Matthew, '*'* 
occasioned lengthy debate. A motion to table it failed, and when the 
question was called, a ballot vote passed the motion 1 19 to 36. At this 
point another motion was made, to the effect that Gundry be re- 
quested to resign from the Society unless he could acknowledge his 

'*^The present statement reads: "The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the 
Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs." 

"'The relevant section of the Constitution is Article IV, Section 4: "In the event 
that the continued membership of an individual be deemed detrimental to the best 
interests of the Society, his name may be dropped from the membership roll at an 
annual meeting, but only after a two-thirds vote." 

""Note the similarities to Gundry's statements in Matthew, pp. 623, 639. 


position to be in error. Here another lengthy and tense debate fol- 
lowed. Eventually the question was called, and the motion passed 1 16 
to 41. When the vote was announced, Gundry spoke briefly, resigning 
from the Society, and expressing concerns for the future. 

It should be noted that in the debate summarized above there 
was evidence that many who disagreed with Gundry's position still 
held him in high esteem as a Christian scholar and gentleman. Also 
noteworthy were the statements of a few of the Society's "founding 
fathers." Unanimously they asserted that Gundry's conclusions re- 
garding Matthew were contradictory to what they understood iner- 
rancy to entail. These assertions seemed to be quite influential in 
determining the outcome of the final two motions.'*^ 


In concluding this study, an evaluation of the current situation is 
necessary. First, the crucial need for clarification of what evangelicals 
mean by inerrancy still exists. Recent events in the E.T.S. indicate 
that the word "inerrancy" has implications not shared by all who 
sincerely claim to believe in it.'*^ It is disappointing that E.T.S. has 
decided not to speak to this crucial need. Evidently, I.C.B.I will be 
the main catalyst toward this needed clarification. In the event that 
such clarification is not attempted or forthcoming, at least two dan- 
gers surface. 

The first danger is that of doctrinal deviation. Evangelicals dare 
not compromise their sole basis of authority, the written Word of 
God. One important implication of inerrancy has been historicity. 

" For news articles describing the E.T.S. Dallas meeting see L. R. Keylock, 
"Evangelical Scholars Remove Gundry for His Views on Matthew," Cr(Feb. 3, 1984) 
36-38, and D. R. Mitchell, "Gundry Asked to Resign from ETS," Fundamentalist 
Journal (Feb. 1984)63. 

■"^There seems to be a tendency for commonly used words to become increasingly 
vague the longer they are commonly used. The founders of E.T.S. in 1949 had certain 
implications in mind when they framed the brief E.T.S. doctrinal statement around the 
term "inerrancy." I have heard more than one of them affirm that one of the reasons 
E.T.S. was founded was to get away from a dehistoricizing approach to the Word of 
God. Thirty four years later the word does not carry the same implications to all who 
use it. However, if the authors of the E.T.S. doctrinal statement are banished when it 
comes to sorting out the implications of the statement, verbal anarchy or semantic 
autonomy will result. Here I am obviously applying the literary theory of E. D. Hirsch, 
Jr. See his Validity in Interpretation (New Haven and London: Yale University, 1967), 
pp. 1-23. Hirsch's view of meaning as a willed type, having boundaries and being 
reproducible (pp. 44-51) is an excellent insight. Applying his insights regarding the 
subconscious implications of an author's willed type of meaning (pp. 52-57) to the 
situation in E.T.S. is instructive. It is clear that historicity is a necessary implication for 
any orthodox view of the Bible and the events which it describes in its pages. 

turner: the debate continues 45 

Evangelicals who confess inerrancy believe that the Bible is true in all 
that it affirms. The Bible's apparently historical affirmations must be 
viewed as historical unless there is convincing evidence from the Bible 
itself, interpreted in its historical context, which shows such apparently 
historical affirmations to be figures of speech. Gundry simply has not 
supplied convincing evidence for his "less historical" approach to 
Matthew. Thus it is legitimate to view his position as dangerous. 

A second danger is that of a vigilante approach to these issues. 
When there is no official clarification of the implications of inerrancy 
upon the synoptic phenomena, evangelical schools and societies run 
the risk of confusing agreement on the doctrine of inerrancy with 
agreement on the interpretation of specific biblical problems. I per- 
sonally believe that Gundry has not done justice to the historicity of 
Matthew, but it is also possible, as Gundry has warned, to read 
historical precision into biblical texts which do not warrant it. The 
complexities of the synoptic phenomena indicate that a brash, cavalier 
attitude about difficulties is not wise.'* If it must be insisted that 
every historical assertion the Bible makes is true, it must likewise be 
insisted that only those historical assertions which the Bible really 
makes are true. 

These two dangers underline the need for clarification of the 
implications of inerrancy for the synoptic phenomena. Gundry's ap- 
proach appears to be doubtful both methodologically and theolog- 
ically. However, only the theologically myopic will view Gundry's 
resignation from E.T.S. as a long-term victory for inerrancy. Much 
work remains to be done. 

""Gundry believes he detects such an attitude in Geisler. See Gundry's "Response," 
p. 95. I have argued that neither a dehistoricizing nor an overconfident approach is 
valid in a review of Archer's Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (JETS 26 [1983] 208-10). 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 47-75 


Wayne A. Brindle 

The development of Samaritanism and its alienation from Juda- 
ism was a process that began with the division of the kingdom of 
Israel, and continued through successive incidents which promoted 
antagonism, including the importation of foreign colonists into Sa- 
maria by Assyria, the rejection of the new Samaritan community by 
the Jews, the building of a rival temple on Mt. Gerizim, the political 
and religious opportunism of the Samaritans, and the destruction of 
both the Samaritan temple and their capital of Shechem by John 
Hyrcanus during the second century B.C. The Samaritan religion at 
the time of Jesus had become Mosaic and quasi- Sadducean, but 
strongly anti-Jewish. Jesus recognized their heathen origins and the 
falsity of their religious claims. 


RELATIONS between the Jews and the Samaritans were always 
strained. Jesus ben Sirach (ca. 180 B.C.) referred to the Samari- 
tans as "the foolish people that dwell in Shechem" (Sir 50:26). There 
is a tradition that 300 priests and 300 rabbis once gathered in the 
temple court in Jerusalem to curse the Samaritans with all the curses 
in the Law of Moses. When the Jews wanted to curse Jesus Christ, 
they called him demon-possessed and a Samaritan in one breath 
(John 8:48). 

The Samaritans are important to biblical studies for several 
reasons:' (1) They claim to be the remnant of the kingdom of Israel, 
specifically of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, with priests of the 
Hne of Aaron/ Levi. (2) They possess an ancient recension of the 
Pentateuch which is non-Masoretic and shows close relationship to a 
text type underlying both the LXX and some Hebrew manuscripts 

'Cf. Theodore H. Caster, "Samaritans," /DB, 4.190; and James D. Purvis, The 
Samaritan Pentateuch and the Origin of the Samaritan Sect (Cambridge: Harvard 
University, 1968) 2-3. 


among the Dead Sea Scrolls, and are therefore important both for 
textual criticism of the OT as well as the study of the history of 
Hebrew. (3) They appear several times in the NT, especially in Luke, 
John, and Acts, and may provide the background for controversies 
related in Ezra, Nehemiah, and other post-exilic writings. (4) They 
provide much insight into the cosmopolitan nature of Palestinian 
religion and politics before and at the time of Christ. (5) At one time 
the community was large enough to exercise considerable influence in 
Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and even Rome. (6) And they were important 
enough to be a subject of controversy in Josephus and Rabbinic 
literature (notable among which are many references in the Mishnah 
and an extra tractate in the Talmud). 

The principal questions addressed in this study are: (1) When 
did the Samaritan sect come into existence as a distinct ethnic and 
religious group, with its own traditions and teachings? and (2) What 
was the development and history of the enmity between Samaritans 
and Jews? 

The sources for a history of the Samaritans are predominantly 
anti-Samaritan: 2 Kings 17; Ezra and Nehemiah; Sir 50:25-26; 2 Mace 
6:2; the Assyrian Annals of Sargon; the Elephantine Papyri; the 
Mishnah; the Babylonian Talmud {Masseket Kutim); the New Testa- 
ment (Matthew, Luke, John, Acts); and Josephus (especially Ant 9, 
11, 12, 13, 18, 20).^ Samaritan literature is largely late; the Samaritan 
Pentateuch, however, though copied in the 14th century, dates back 
in recensional form at least to the Hasmonean period (ca. 100- 
150 B.C.). Many of its peculiarities reflect Samaritan religious ten- 
dencies, and it is thus an early witness to their beliefs and claims. 

The problem of sources is compounded by the fact that the name 
"Samaritan" occurs only once in the OT (2 Kgs 17:29 — translated in 
the NASB as "the people of Samaria"), and there it refers not to the 
"Samaritans" as they appear in the Talmud, Josephus, and the NT, 
but rather to the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel before its 
captivity by Assyria! An accurate understanding of the Samaritans as 
a religious people must therefore depend on much more than a simple 
identification based on names and geography. 


The traditional theories of Samaritan origins are reduced by 
Purvis to four basic positions:^ (1) the view of the Samaritans them- 
selves, that their movement is a perpetuation of the ancient Israelite 

A. Gelston, "Samaritans," New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962) 

James D. Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 4-5. 

brindle: the Samaritans 49 

faith as it was practised in the pre-monarchical period at Shechem 
(ca. 1400-1 100 B.C.); (2) the counterclaim of Judaism, that Samari- 
tanism is a heresy derived from a corrupt worship of Yahweh which 
developed in northern Palestine after the Assyrian conquest of that 
area about 722 B.C.; (3) an interpretation based on Ezra, Nehemiah, 
and Josephus, that the Samaritans broke away from the Jews in the 
Persian period; and (4) the assertion that a Samaritan schism occurred 
in the early Greek period. 

All views demonstrate that there was a definite schism,"* followed 
by a long period of independent development of the two groups. The 
Samaritans place the schism in the twelfth century B.C., at the time of 
Eli. The Jews date it in the eighth century B.C. 

Modern critics have tended to date the schism much later, but 
most have retained the schism concept. Some scholars, however, have 
begun to question this notion. As Coggins points out: 

Two points in particular have remained characteristic of many descrip- 
tions: the view of Samaritanism as a debased form of religion, contain- 
ing many syncretistic elements; and the notion of a schism — with its 
twofold connotation, of a definte break that took place at a specific 
moment in history, and of that break as implying the departure of the 
schismatic from the accepted norm. ... It is hoped that it will become 
clear that neither of these features should be taken for granted as truly 
characteristic of the situation.^ 

Purvis stresses that "the so-called Samaritan schism, or withdrawal 
from the mainstream of Judaism, was not so much an event as a 
process — a process extending over several centuries and involving a 
series of events which eventually brought about estrangement between 
the two communities."^ Historians have tended to select one event 
and to declare that it was this that caused the emergence of the 
Samaritan sect. They have also disagreed as to which element of 
Samaritanism represents its crucial distinction from Judaism. The 
Samaritans, for example, say that worship at Gerizim rather than 
elsewhere has always been the determining factor. The Jews regard 
the intermarriage of Assyrian colonists and northern Israelites and 
the development of a syncretistic religion as the origin of the heresy. 
Others refer to the erection of a temple on Mt. Gerizim, or the rejec- 
tion of the post-Pentateuchal scriptures, as the crucial event. 

The thesis of this article is that the origin of Samaritanism was 
indeed a process — a process which began at least with the division of 
the kingdom (by ca. 931 B.C.) and continued through each successive 

■"R. J. Coggins, Samaritans and Jews (Oxford: Blackwell, 1975) 7. 

'Ibid., 4. 

^Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 5. 


incident, including the importation of foreign colonists and the build- 
ing of the Gerizim temple, right up to their final excommunication by 
the Jews about a.d. 300. Thus even in NT times the process of 
estrangement was still going on, although the sect could surely be 
considered distinct once it had its own temple and worship on 

Most modern critics tend to minimize the OT's witness to the 
origin of the Samaritan people and religion, assuming that such 
"Jewish" accounts are too prejudiced to be reliable. This attitude 
must be avoided, however, since the statements of Jesus Christ show 
that he also recognized the dubiousness of their origins and the false- 
hood of their religious claims. 


The Samaritans claim to be the true children of Israel, who have 
remained faithful to the Law of Moses. ^ The Torah in their hands is 
"the true, original and faultless Torah in all its sentences, pronuncia- 
tions, and its style."* 

The Samaritans claim to be descendants of the tribe of Joseph, 
and thus descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh. Their priests are 
from the house of Levi, descendants of Aaron. When Israel entered 
Palestine, Joshua established the center of his administration at 
Shechem, in the valley between Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.^ 
The high priest at the time was Eleazar, son of Aaron, who also lived 
in Shechem. Six years after the entrance into the land, Joshua built 
the Tabernacle on Gerizim, where all worship of the Israelites was 

After Joshua's death there was a succession of kings (called 
D'UDtt^, "judges," by the Jews), the last of whom was Samson. Eleazar 
was succeeded at Gerizim by Phinehas, Abishua, Shesha, Bacha, and 

When Uzzi became high priest at the age of 23, Eli (a descendant 
of Ithamar rather than of Eleazar"'), then 60 years old, was director 
of revenues and tithes and director of the sacrifices on the stone altar 
outside the Tabernacle." Eli became rich through revenues and jealous 
of Uzzi, and he decided to take the high-priesthood away from Uzzi. 

Jacob, Son of Aaron, "The History and Religion of the Samaritans," BSac 63 

John MacDonald, The Theology of the Samaritans (Philadelphia: Westminster, 
1964) 16. 

' Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 88, n. 1. 
"Jacob, "History," 395. 

brindle: the Samaritans 51 

About the time of Eli, foreigners began to enter Israel and to 
teach the people sorcery and magic. Even a large number of priests 
learned it and left the ways of God. Eli was one of these, and he 
gathered a group of supporters. One day Uzzi the high priest rebuked 
Eli for some fault in his sacrificial work, and Eli with his followers 
immediately apostatized.'^ Some of Israel followed Uzzi (especially 
the tribes of Joseph), and some followed Eli (especially Judah and 

Eli moved to Shiloh and took copies of the Law with him. There 
he made a counterfeit ark and tabernacle and set up a rival sanctuary. 
He claimed that God had commanded the tabernacle to be moved to 
Shiloh from Gerizim. A majority of the people of Israel began to 
follow Eli because of his sorcery, and a deep dissension began to 
grow between the two groups. Thus, for a time there were two sanc- 
tuaries and two priesthoods (one descended from Phinehas, the other 
from Ithamar), and the first division on religious grounds in Israel 
was created.'^ The Samaritans thereafter rejected the claims of the 
Ithamar branch of priests in favor of the sons of Phinehas. As a result 
of Eli's defection, Israel was split into three divisions: (1) the followers 
of Uzzi, the genuine high priest; (2) the followers of Eli; and (3) many 
of various tribes who lapsed into paganism. 

This is the only schism that the Samaritans know.'"* Eli's act 
ended the era of divine favor (nniSl, "Rahuta") and initiated the age 
of divine wrath (nni^D, "Panuta"). 

One day God told Uzzi to put all of the vessels and furniture of 
the tabernacle into a nearby cave, after which the cave miraculously 
closed up, engulfing the entire sanctuary. The next day, the cave and 
its contents completely disappeared (not to be found again until the 
Taheb or Messiah comes). '^ 

About this time, Samuel, a descendant of Korah, came to live 
with Eli at Shiloh. Eli taught him all his evil ways, including sorcery 
and witchcraft. When Eli died, the people made Samuel their ruler. 
The Philistines took advantage of the corruption and division to 
attack Israel. The people demanded a king, so Samuel appointed 

Saul determined to punish the tribes of Joseph because they did 
not follow Samuel's cult in Shiloh, so he went to Shechem and 
destroyed the remaining altar on Gerizim, killed the high priest Shisha 
(son of Uzzi), and destroyed many of the tribe. '^ They began to 

'Ibid., 397. 

MacDonald, Theology, 17. 
'Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 88, n. I. 
'MacDonald, Theology, 17. 
'Jacob, "History," 406-7. 


worship in their homes, and many moved to Bashan, east of the Sea 
of GaHlee. But the Torah was kept in its original condition. 

After Saul died, David came to Shechem and became king of all 
Israel. He captured Jabish (Jerusalem) and moved Eli's ark there. 
When David decided to build a temple in Jerusalem, the high priest 
at Gerizim, Yaire, told him that he would have to build it on 
Mt. Gerizim instead, according to the Torah. So David, who was a 
friend of this high priest (cf. 1 Sam 21:1-7) and had always offered 
his tithes at Gerizim, refrained from building the temple and left it for 
his son to do. Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem and led the 
people astray from God. Jeroboam later rebelled and led Israel even 
further astray. He made his capital in Sabastaba'^ (Sebaste, later 
called Samaria). 

There were now three groups of Israelites: (1) the Samaritans, 
who kept themselves distinct from the rest and called themselves 
D"'"l?pt', keepers of the Law; (2) the Israelites of the north, who fol- 
lowed Jeroboam; and (3) the tribe of Judah, with a mixture of various 
other tribes, who followed the line of David.'* 

Assyria finally captured the Northern Kingdom and enslaved the 
people. An Assyrian named Samar controlled Sabastaba, and an 
Israelite (of the tribe of Joseph) bought the city and it became known 
as Samaria. Its inhabitants thus became known as Samaritans.'^ 

Some of the followers of Uzzi were also taken into captivity by 
the Assyrians. Later, Nebuchadnezzar deported people from all tribes 
(including the tribe of Joseph) to Babylon. Foreigners immigrated to 
Israel in order to settle, but had problems with famine and wild 
beasts. So Cyrus sent the "Samaritan" high priest Abdullah (or 
Abdel^*^), along with a host of descendants of Joseph, back to the 
Land. Abdullah wanted to build a sanctuary on Gerizim, but Zerub- 
babel the Jew wanted to rebuild in Jerusalem. Abdullah appealed to 
the Torah, whereas the Jews appealed to David and Solomon. Cyrus 
sided with the Samaritans, honored Sanballat their governor, and 
allowed many from the tribe of Joseph to return and to build a 
temple on Gerizim. 

Enmity between the tribes of Joseph and Judah continued to 
grow. Zerubbabel bribed the King of Persia to allow the Jews to 
build a temple in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans then received permis- 
sion to destroy what they had built. This caused yet greater division. 

"ibid., 414; actually, it was Herod the Great who gave it the name Sebaste, which 
is Greek for Augustus. 

MacDonald, Theology, 18. 
"Jacob, "History," 415. 
^"Ay. L., "'Samarilans" Encyclopaedia Judaica, 14.728. 

brindle: the Samaritans 53 

Ezra (the "accursed Ezra"^') finally obtained a second decree 
(through Esther and by means of witchcraft) from King Ashoresh 
(Ahasuerus) to rebuild the temple and the city of Jerusalem and to 
exercise authority over all the Land. Since the Jews had lost the 
Torah and all their books, Ezra began to collect legends and narra- 
tives and invented many things which never occurred. He falsely 
claimed (in 2 Kings 17) that the Samaritans were Gentiles with false 
gods (cf. Ezra 4). He also invented the idea, popular among later 
rabbis, that the Samaritans call Ashina (or Ashima) their god, whereas 
in reality they simply substitute the word "Shimeh" (from Up, "name") 
for YHWH, in the same way that the Jews use the substitution word, 
'JIK, "Adonai").^^ Ezra wrote in the "Assyrian" language (Aramaic), 
whereas the Samaritans retained Hebrew. Ezra was wicked and cor- 
rupted the Jews even more, and by persecutions and lies caused much 
of the hatred between the Jews and Samaritans. These persecutions 
kept the Samaritan nation small, but Samaritans still claim to carry 
out the ancient customs according to the Mosaic Law.^^ 

Thus, Judaism is an extension of Eli's heresy through Samuel, 
Saul, David, the Judean monarchy, and Ezra, with the rival cult 
shifting from Shiloh to Jerusalem and later developing a complete 
tradition on which to base it. The true Samaritan claims were dis- 
missed with slander and persecution. 

Several things may be said concerning this account by the 
Samaritans of their own history. Purvis declares that "to accept the 
Samaritan claim at face value would be extraordinarily naive. "^'^ Most 
of their sources are extremely late, although their later chronicles do 
make use of earlier ones.^^ 

In their favor, however, is the fact that at regular intervals before 
the divided monarchy, all twelve tribes gathered at Shechem to wor- 
ship their common God.^^ It was to Shechem that Rehoboam went to 
be anointed king of all Israel (1 Kgs 12:1). Jeroboam built up Shechem 
as his first capital (1 Kgs 12:25). Gerizim was mentioned as a sacred 
mountain in Deuteronomy (11:29; 27:12), whereas Jerusalem and 
Mt. Zion were chosen much later. 

Jeroboam also corrupted the priesthood by making priests of 
non-Levites (1 Kgs 12:31; 2 Chr 13:9). It may be questioned whether 
any of the legitimate priests decided to separate from Jeroboam's 

'Gaster, "Samaritans," 191. 
"Jacob, "History," 424. 
"Ibid., 426. 

^"Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 92. 
''Ibid., 90. 
Salo \V. Baron, A Social and Religious History of the Jews, 2nd ed. (New York: 
Columbia University, 1952) 1.61. 


apostate system in order to preserve the true worship of Yahweh. 
(Such priests may have simply gone south to Jerusalem, however.) It 
is not known whether the priesthood in northern Israel survived the 
Assyrian conquest. ^^ But it does seem certain that "only a very small 
percentage of the Samaritan, or northern Israelite, people were exiled, 
to judge from Sargon's own account, and he makes no mention of 
any religious groups. "^^ 

All of these factors may be explained by the assumption that 
when the Samaritan sect finally developed its own identity and organi- 
zation (during the last centuries B.C.), it was forced to reinterpret 
Israelite history in order to validate its claims to be the true remnant 
of Israel. The pecuharities of the Samaritan Pentateuch (which seem 
to be rather transparent alterations) also support this hypothesis. The 
progress of divine revelation in both testaments also supports this 
view, for, as Jesus himself said, "Salvation is from the Jews" 
(John 4:22). 


The Name "Samaritan" 

About 875 B.C., Omri founded the city of Samaria on a hill 
about seven miles northwest of Shechem.^^ He bought the hill from a 
man named Shemer for two talents of silver, built a fortified city, and 
called it Samaria (fnolU^), after the name of the previous owner 
(1 Kgs 16:24). Shemer was apparently a widespread clan name in 

Samaria became the capital of the northern kingdom and re- 
mained the capital until its destruction by Alexander the Great 
(ca. 332 B.C.). The capital soon gave its name to the entire nation (cf. 
1 Kgs 13:32; Hos 8:5; Amos 3:9; Isa 9:9-12). Subsequently, the nation 
gave its name to its inhabitants, the Samarians. 

Ay. L., "Samaritans," 727. 

'*John Bright, A History of Israel, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1972) 236; 
G. Ernest Wright, fi//)//ra/ /I rr/zaeo/ogv (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1957) 152; James L. 
Kelso, "Samaria, City of," Zonciervari Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 5.232. The 
date is not certain; cf. Eugene H. Merrill, An Historical Survey of the Old Testament 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1966) 251; Gaalyah Cornfeld and David N. Freedman, Archae- 
ology of the Bible: Book by Book (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1976) 119; 
Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, rev. ed. (Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1983) 36, 88, who, among others, would date the founding of 
Samaria ca. 880 B.C. 

' James L. Kelso, "Samaria, City of," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the 
Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975) 5.232. 

^"James A. Montgomery, The Samaritans (New York: Ktav, 1968) 317. 

brindle: the Samaritans 55 

Yet the name D'^IIPpiu; ("Samaritans") occurs only once in the 
entire OT (2 Kgs 17:29), and there it refers not to the so-called "mixed 
race" who appear in the NT, but rather to the former inhabitants of 
Samaria, many of whom were carried off into exile. As Unger states: 

It is customary to refer "Samaritans" in this passage to the colonists 
brought by the king of Assyria in place of the deported Israelites; but 
the text seems rather to mean that these colonists put their gods into 
the houses of the high places which the "Samaritans," i.e., the former 
inhabitants of Samaria, had made for their own religious use . . . ." 

Indeed, Coggins claims that "there are no unambiguous references 
to the Samaritans in the Hebrew Old Testament. "^^ The LXX has 
Sa^apeiTtti, again only at 2 Kgs 17:29. This word also occurs in 
Josephus and the NT, and from it the English form is derived. 

The more usual name found in Josephus and the Talmud is 
Kutim or Cutheans, which refers to one of the groups of foreign 
colonists mentioned in 2 Kgs 17:24, 30. This name, of course, empha- 
sizes the supposed heathen origins and syncretistic practice of the 
Samaritans. Another name used several times by Josephus is "She- 
chemites" (SiKijxiTai)," a name which refers to their principal city. 
Josephus also says that the Samaritans of the Hellenistic period 
called themselves "Sidonians in Shechem" when they wanted to dis- 
sociate themselves from the Jews and win the support of Antiochus 

On the other hand, the Samaritans themselves do not use these 
designations at all. Usually they call themselves "Israel. "^^ But they 
also frequently use the term Dnpu;^^ or inQIi',^' which they contend 
means "keepers" or "observers" of the truth, the Law of God, derived 
from the verb l^U^ (to guard or observe). The use of this term is 
admitted early, since it was known by Epiphanus (a.d. 375) and 
Origen (ca. a.d. 240).^* Ewing suggests that a derivative of "MpW would 

Merrill F. Unger, Unger's Bible Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1966) 958. 
Coggins, Samaritans, 9. 
"Josephus, Ant. 11.8.6. 
^'Josephus, /4m. 11.8.6; 12.5.5. 

Coggins, Samaritans, 10. 
^*Ay. L., "Samaritans," 728. 
Shemaryahu Talmon, "The Samaritans," Scientific American (January, 1977) 

Epiphanius, Panarion 9.1; Origen, Homily on Ezekiel 9.1-5; Commentary on 
John 20.35; cf. G. W. H. Lampe, ed., A Patristic Greek lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon, 
1961) 1222; N. R. M. de Lange, Origen and the Jews (Cambridge: Cambridge Univer- 
sity, 1976) 36; Coggins, Samaritans, 1 1. 


have fit even the city of Samaria in the sense of "outlook," since it 
had a commanding view of the Plain of Sharon. ^^ 

The suggestion has also been made that there is an allusion to 
the Samaritan self-designation in 2 Chr 13:11, where King Abijah of 
Judah condemns the Northern Israelites with the phrase "we are 
keepers [D''"!pHi;'] of the charge of the Lord our God, but you have 
forsaken Him."'"^ This speech comes shortly after the division of the 
kingdom in Chronicles and perhaps may be seen as Abijah's declara- 
tion of the "Jewish monopoly of salvation."'*' Abijah also emphasizes 
the true priesthood at Jerusalem, contrasting it with the illegitimate 
priesthood of Northern Israel which served false gods. The suggestion 
of some critics is that the author of Chronicles inserted or used this 
allusion as a polemic against the Samaritan system of his own day.'*' 

The use of the term here is striking, but in the complete absence 
of other evidence, it is doubtful that the technical use of the term was 
current at such an early date. It is more likely that the connection 
with "keeping" the law was a reaction against the pejorative use of the 
name "Samaritan" by the Jews in Rabbinic or later times. 

The Samaritan People 

When Jeroboam declared himself king of Israel, his kingdom 
included the entire northern two-thirds of the earlier kingdom of 
Solomon, from Bethel in the south to Dan in the north, with author- 
ity stretching probably to the Euphrates River (1 Kgs 4:24)."*^ This 
dominion was quickly lost, however, and during the Assyrian inva- 
sions of the ninth and eighth centuries B.C., Israel lost progressively 
more territory."*^ Finally in 722/21 B.C., the city of Samaria was taken 
after a three year siege.'"' 

The fall of Samaria . . . marked a new era in the history of the 
northern kingdom. The leading citizens were deported by Sargon, while 
exiles from other parts of the Assyrian Empire were imported by 
Sargon, Esarhaddon, and Ashurbanipal.''^ 

''W. Ewing, "Samaria," /Sfif (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939)4.2671. 
Coggins, Samaritans, 1 1. 



""Yohanan Aharoni and Michael Avi-Yonah, The MacMillan Bible Atlas (New 
York: MacMillan, 1968)68. 

''ibid., 76. 

"'^Ibid.. 86-97. 

'^'Ewing, "Samaritans," 2672. 

'^A. Gelston, "Samaritans," The New Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

brindle: the Samaritans 57 

Sargon carried off 27,290 people, as he recounted in his annals,"* 
probably mostly influential people from the city of Samaria itself. 
Yamauchi estimates that 500,000 to 700,000 people lived in Israel at 
this time."*' Thus Sargon neither desolated nor depopulated the land; 
he merely took away its independence and its leading citizens. In 
720 B.C. Samaria, together with Arpad, Simyra, and Damascus, joined 
in a revolt against Assyria headed by Hamath.^'' It is likely that large- 
scale deportations were carried out by Sargon as a result of this and 
similar revolts.^' 

According to 2 Kgs 17:24, "the king of Assyria brought men from 
Babylon and from Cuthah and from Avva and from Hamath and 
Sephar-vaim, and settled them in the cities of Samaria in place of the 
sons of Israel." If these were limited mainly to the vicinity of the city 
of Samaria, this would account well for the fact that the Galilee of 
NT times remained a Jewish region." 

The conquests of several of these nations were referred to later, 
in 701 B.C., by Rabshakeh when he taunted the people of Jerusalem 
with these words: 

Has any one of the gods of the nations delivered his land from the hand 
of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? 
Where are the gods of Sepharvaim, Hena and Ivvah? Have they de- 
livered Samaria from my hand? (2 Kgs 18:33-34; cf. Isa 36:18-20) 

Additional colonists were imported by Esarhaddon about 680 B.C. 
and by Ashurbanipal about 669-630 B.C." Many of these peoples 
kept their separate identities for several generations, as is shown by 
their statement to Zerubbabel (ca. 535 B.C.) that "we have been sacri- 
ficing to Him [Yahweh God] since the days of Esarhaddon king of 
Assyria, who brought us up here" (Ezra 4:2). 

It is indeed important to recognize that the question of the 
national heritage of the Samaritans is to some extent distinct from 
the question of their religion (which will be considered below). How- 
ever, modern critics have tended to adopt the misguided view that 

*^ANET. 284-85; cf. Wright, Archaeology, 162; Bright, History. 21 A. 
Edwin Yamauchi, "The Archaeological Background of Ezra," BSac 137 (1980) 
195. Coggins (Samaritans, 17) estimates a deportation of between 3% and 4% of the 

'"Bright, History, llA; Unger, Dictionary, 958. 

" Coggins, Samaritans, 17. 

" Unger, Dictionary, 958; cf. Ezra 4:10. 

"ibid.; Herbert Donner, "The Separate States of Israel and Judah," in Israelite 
and Judaean History, eds. John H. Hayes and J. Maxwell Miller (OTL; Philadelphia: 
Westminster, 1977) 434; Siegfried Herrmann, A History of Israel in Old Testament 
Times, trans. John Bowden (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975) 251; Thiele, Numbers, 178. 


2 Kings 17 says nothing about the origin of the Samaritans.^'' It will 
be shown below that the rejection of these people by Zerubbabel, 
Ezra, and Nehemiah because of their heathen ancestry and the begin- 
ning of the worship on Gerizim because of the same kind of rejection 
by the Jews are but two milestones in the process of the development 
of the Samaritan sect. 

That the Samaritan people did have their origin with these im- 
portations of foreigners by Assyria into the region of Samaria is 
shown conclusively by three statements made by Jesus: (1) Matt 
10:5-6: "Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any 
city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of 
Israel." The promise of salvation was first to the entire seed of 
Abraham, to the whole house of Israel. Clearly Jesus did not consider 
the Samaritans (perhaps the "cities of the Samaritans" were not 
synonymous with the province of Samaria, but were certain cities 
which were predominantly Samaritan — cf. Luke 9:52) to be part of 
the "house of Israel" (though not quite Gentiles, either). And this was 
despite the fact that they then worshiped the God of Moses and kept 
the pure Law even more stringently than the Jews. This fits well with 
taking 2 Kings 17 as the description of their origin. 

(2) Luke 17:18: Jesus calls the Samaritan who returned to thank 
him for healing him a "foreigner" (dX^-oyevf];;). In view of Jesus' 
comments elsewhere concerning the Samaritans, it is doubtful that he 
would use such a designation simply to accommodate popular Jewish 
opinion. He obviously considered Samaritans to some extent non- 
Israelites, not simply sectarians or heretics. 

(3) John 4:22: "salvation is from the Jews." This statement was 
intended to show the accuracy of genuine Jewish faith as against the 
Samaritan system. But it also shows that Jesus distinguished between 
the national origins of Jews and Samaritans, for he would never have 
made such a distinction with Galileans. 


The roots of the enmity between Jews and Samaritans go back to 
the antagonism between the north and the south. ^ But this was only 
one of the tensions within Judaism (in a Palestinian sense) from 
which Samaritanism sprang. 

Foreign Settlers and Foreign Gods 

When the foreign settlers from Syria and Mesopotamia began to 
colonize Samaria, a problem developed. As 2 Kgs 17:25-33 puts it: 

^""Cf. Coggins, Samaritans, 15. 

'^Reinhard Pummer, "The Present State of Samaritan Studies," 755 21 (1976) 52; 
cf. Coggins, Samaritans, 81; Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 9, n. 13. 

brindle: the Samaritans 59 

And it came about at the beginning of their Hving there, that they did 
not fear the Lord; therefore the Lord sent lions among them which 
killed some of them. So they spoke to the king of Assyria, saying, "The 
nations whom you have carried away into exile in the cities of Samaria 
do not know the custom of the god of the land; so he has sent lions 
among them, and behold, they kill them because they do not know the 
custom of the god of the land." 

Then the king of Assyria commanded, saying, "Take there one of 
the priests whom you carried away into exile, and let him go and live 
there; and let him teach them the custom of the god of the land." So 
one of the priests whom they had carried away into exile from Samaria 
came and lived at Bethel, and taught them how they should fear the 
Lord. But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the 
houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made, every 
nation in their cities in which they lived. And the men of Babylon made 
Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath 
made Ashima, and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak; and the 
Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and 
Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim. They also feared the Lord and 
appointed from among themselves priests of the high places, who acted 
for them in the houses of the high places. They feared the Lord and 
served their own gods according to the custom of the nations from 
among whom they had been carried away into exile. 

Thus, as Montgomery says, "According to this narrative, the 
early Samaritan religion was syncretistic, that is, a mixture of different 
elements, having arisen from the amalgamation of the ancient religion 
of Northern Israel with the heathen cults which the Assyrian colonists 
had brought with them to their new home."^^ At first the new peoples 
still worshiped their own gods, but in the course of time they inter- 
mingled with one another and with the native Israelites of Samaria." 
They learned from the Israelite priest and soon adopted the worship 
of Yahweh along with their old gods. 

Tadmor relates that "the Assyrians regarded it as a primary state 
function to unify the heterogeneous ethnic elements in the main cities 
of the kingdom and the provinces and to turn them into cohesive 
local units within an Assyrianized society. "^^ Thus, as time went on, 
and at least by the third century B.C., there came into being a new 
ethnic and religious entity (apart from the Hellenists introduced by 
Alexander and the Seleucids), the "kernel of what later became known 
as the Samaritans. "^^ 

James A. Montgomery, "Were the Samaritans Worthy or Unworthy?" The 
Sunday School Times 48 (1906) 383. 

H. Tadmor, "The Period of the First Temple, the Babylonian Exile and the 
Restoration," in A History of the Jewish People, edited by H. H. Ben-Sasson (Cam- 
bridge, MA: Harvard, 1976) 137. 


It is here that a serious problem arises. On the one hand, 
2 Kings 17 definitely implies the development of a syncretistic religion 
(cf. V 33: "they feared the Lord and served their own gods"). But on 
the other hand, as Kelso expresses it, "Samaritan theology shows no 
sign of the influence of paganism among the colonists sent by the 

What is the solution to this paradox? Gaster refuses to harmo- 
nize the two: 

The most plausible conclusion is, then, that after the fall of Samaria in 
722, the local population consisted of two distinct elements living side 
by side — viz., (a) the remnant of the native Israelites; and (b) the 
foreign colonists. For tendentious reasons, however, the Jewish version 
ignores the former; the Samaritan version, the latter.^' 

It is the opinion of this writer that the religious situation in 
Samaria moved through several phases from 722 B.C. to the Christian 
era: (1) At first the Israelites and the foreigners co-existed side by 
side; (2) when the teaching priest arrived (2 Kgs 17:28), the religion 
of the colonists almost immediately became syncretistic with Yahwism; 
(3) during the religious campaigns of Hezekiah and Josiah and there- 
after, the bulk of the population of Samaria became more and more 
Yahwistic in the Jewish sense, although much of the foreign element 
failed to give up its gods (2 Kgs 17:41); (4) when the Samaritan temple 
on Mt. Gerizim was built (ca. 332 b.c.),^^ the priest Manasseh actively 
began to teach the Samaritan people a strict Yahwism based on the 
Torah and to develop a more sectarian, but conservative and quasi- 
Sadducean, religious system, with an active temple worship; (5) after 
the destruction of the Samaritan temple about 128 B.C., the Samari- 
tans put even more emphasis upon the Law, and their particular 
brand of theology began to solidify in conjunction with the Samaritan 
Pentateuch and their anti-Jewish attitudes and conduct. 

Though some of the foregoing is conjecture, the scheme fits the 
facts of Scripture and the nature and history of the sect. It hinges on 
references in the Bible and elsewhere to an ongoing teaching ministry 
among the Samaritans. 

The teaching priest 

Some have thought that any priest from the Northern Kingdom 
would be syncretistic or pagan in outlook, since the religious system 

James L. Kelso, "Samaritans," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, 
5.245; Gaster, "Samaritans," 192. 
Gaster, "Samaritans," 192. 
*^Josephus, /In/. 11.8.4. 

brindle: the Samaritans 61 

founded by Jeroboam introduced idol-worship. It is not certain, 
however, that Jeroboam intended to substitute idolatry for the wor- 
ship of Yahweh. Wood contends that "the intent was still to worship 
Yahweh, but in a new way."^^ As linger points out, the schism was 
more political than religious, and Jeroboam's purpose was not to 
separate Israel from the true God, but from Jerusalem and the Davidic 

Many scholars note that this was not necessarily a change of 
religion. De Vaux, for example, thinks that "the God Jeroboam asked 
his subjects to adore was Yahweh who had brought Israel out of 

The novelty lies in the cultic symbol, the 'golden calves.' . . . They were 
wooden statues covered with gold plate. It seems certain that these 
statues were not thought of, originally, as representations of Yahweh. 
In the primitive religions of Asia Minor, Mesopotamia and Egypt, the 
sacred animal is not the god and is not confused with the god; it merely 
embodies his attributes, is an ornament of his throne or a support for 
it, or a footstool for his use. There are several examples extant of gods 
riding on the animal which is their symbol. The Temple of Jerusalem 
had the Ark, and the Cherubim above it formed the throne of Yahweh; 
Jeroboam needed something similar for the sanctuaries he founded, 
and he made the 'golden calves' as the throne for the invisible godhead. ^^ 

Archaeologists are in general agreement. Albright was an early 
supporter of the idea that "Jeroboam represented Yahweh as an 
invisible figure standing on a young bull of gold."^^ He points to 
cylinder seals of the second millennium B.C. on which the storm-god 
of Mesopotamia is represented as a schematic bolt of lightning set 
upright on the back of a bull.^^ 

Wright agrees that for Jeroboam the golden calves (or bulls) 
"may have been the pedestal on which the invisible Lord was thought 

*'Leon Wood, A Survey of Israel's History (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1970) 304; 
cf. C. F. Keil, The Books of the Kings, trans. James Martin (Biblical Commentary on 
the Old Testament, reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1950) 198. 
Unger, Dictionary, 958. 

"R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, vol. 2 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1961) 333. 

"ibid., 333-34; cf. Donner, "Separate States," 387-88; note 1 Sam 4:4 and 2 Sam 
6:2, where Yahweh is said to be "enthroned above the cherubim." 

*^ William F. Albright, From the Stone Age to Christianity, 2nd ed. (Baltimore: 
Johns Hopkins, 1957) 299; cf. Merrill {Survey, 248), who states that "these calves 
certainly were not images of Yahweh, but only representations of the throne upon 
which Yahweh stood." 

''^Albright, Stone Age, 300; cf. Albright, Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan (Lon- 
don: University of London, 1968; reprint; Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1978) 197- 
98; Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1956) 156. 


to Stand. "^^ As an example he refers to a carving from northern Syria 
(8th century B.C.) picturing the storm-god Hadad (Baal) standing on 
the back of a bull. 

Whatever the origin and intention of the golden calves, it is clear 
that they were a serious offense to God™ and represented a grave 
danger to the continued worship of Yahweh in Israel.^' The bull was 
the animal which symbolized Baal, and the mass of people would 
confuse the "bull of Yahweh" and the "bull of Baal."^^ The door was 
thus opened to syncretism and idolatry. According to Wood, "Jero- 
boam's innovation made the later introduction of Baal worship into 
the land under Ahab and Jezebel (1 Kgs 16:30-33) much easier."" 

The prophet Ahijah condemned these "molten images" (1 Kgs 
14:9). Jeroboam is said to have sacrificed to the calves as though they 
were gods (1 Kgs 12:32).^'* His great sin, shared by all his successors 
(cf. 2 Kgs 10:29) and the people of Israel (2 Kgs 17:8, 12, 16, 21, 22), 
consisted especially in setting up these images. More broadly, how- 
ever, Jeroboam violated God's law in four principal ways:" (1) he 
changed the symbols of worship, introducing images associated with 
pagan worship clearly prohibited by God (Exod 34:17); (2) he 
changed the center of worship (1 Kgs 12:29-30), away from God's 
appointed center; (3) he changed the priesthood, abandoning the 
chosen tribe of Levi (1 Kgs 12:31; 13:33; 2 Chr 13:9); and (4) he 
changed the schedule offcasts (1 Kgs 12:33). 

Wright, Archaeology, 147; cf. Bright, History, 234; W. Eichrodt, Theology of the 
Old Testament, vol. 1, trans. J. A. Baker (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961) 117. 

™Wood, History, 305. 

"Bright, History, 234; R. K. Harrison {Old Testament Times [Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1970] 210) contends that Jeroboam was essentially an apostate who created 
a thoroughly pagan system. 

"De Vaux, Ancient Israel, 2.334; Wright, Archaeology, 148; cf. Eichrodt (Theol- 
ogy, vol. 2 (1964) 22, n. 1), who is among many who contend that the bull-image of 
Jeroboam had nothing to do with the Egyptian bull-cult of Memphis. 

"Wood, History, 305; cf. Shalom M. Paul and William G. Dever, eds.. Biblical 
Archaeology {JerussLlem: Keter, 1973)270. 

''Jeroboam's declaration, "Behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from 
the land of Egypt" (1 Kgs 12:28) is probably meant to refer directly to an identical 
statement by the Israelites in Exod 32:4. There they "worshiped" a golden calf and 
"sacrificed" to it, for which God desired to kill them (32:8-10). God called Aaron's calf 
a "god of gold" (32:31), and Paul later referred to this incident when he related God's 
judgment of some Israelites as "idolaters" (1 Cor 10:7). It is noteworthy, however, that 
Jeroboam's system is not specifically called "idolatry" in either Kings or Chronicles, 
and whether Jeroboam intended to copy Aaron's sin is not clear. 

Cf. John J. Davis and John C. Whitcomb, A History of Israel (Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1980) 359. 

James A. Montgomery, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of 
Kings (ICC, Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1951) 257, n. 4. 

brindle: the Samaritans 63 

The outcome of these changes was that many of the priests and 
Levites of the North migrated to the South (2 Chr 11:14-16). How- 
ever, even at the peak of Baal-worship in Israel, at least 7,000 men 
were still following the true God (1 Kgs 19:18). 

The point here is that Jeroboam's religious system was not neces- 
sarily designed to turn the people away from Yahweh to idolatry and 
paganism. It is possible that the worship of Yahweh continued in 
Israel even among the priesthood and that the teaching priest of 
2 Kings 17 may have helped to introduce a Mosaic Yahwism to the 
foreign settlers." Both the priest and the settlers recognized that the 
"god of the land" was Yahweh. At the very least, he taught them to 
"fear the lord" (2 Kgs 17:28), and his teaching had some effect (v 32). 

The Kings of Judah 

Montgomery assumes that the teaching priest had the benevolent 
assistance of Hezekiah.^^ Gelston contends that the Israelites who 
were left after the Assyrian deportation formed the core of the new 
Samarian community and, "despite the introduction of various cults, 
guaranteed the continuity of the worship of Yahweh. "^^ Closer rela- 
tions, he believes, were maintained with Judah before and after the 
fall of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. 

At any rate, about 715 B.C. Hezekiah issued an invitation to all 
of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, to come to Jerusalem to celebrate 
the Passover together (2 Chr 30:1, 5-6). Many people, especially of 
Ephraim and Manasseh, mocked the messengers (v 10), but many 
others attended (from Asher, Manasseh, Zebulon, Ephraim, and 
Issachar — vv 1 1, 18). A revival took place, and the people went out to 
destroy all the high places and altars throughout Ephraim and 
Manasseh (2 Chr 31:1). 

Josiah (ca. 622 B.C.) initiated another revival, and 2 Chr 34:9 
records that contributions were received "from Manasseh and Eph- 
raim, and from all the remnant of Israel." Jeremiah records a visit of 
80 men from Shechem, Shiloh, and Samaria (the chief cities of 
Samaria) who came on the day after the murder of Gedaliah (586 B.C.) 
"with their beards shaved off and their clothes torn and their bodies 
gashed, having grain offerings and incense in their hands to bring to 
the house of the Lord" (Jer 41:4-5). Evidently the reforms of Hezekiah 
and Josiah had made some lasting inroads into the north.*" 

'Cf. Keil, Kings, 423-27. 
Montgomery, Kings, 473. 
Gelston, "Samaritans," 1131. 
Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 9. 


Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel understood God's plans as including 
all Israel: "Again you shall plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria; . . . 
For there shall be a day when watchmen on the hills of Ephraim shall 
call out, 'Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to the Lord our God'" 
(Jer 31:5-6); "For I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first- 
born" (Jer 31:9); "Say to them 'Thus says the Lord God, "Behold, I 
will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and 
the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with 
the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in 
My hand"'" (Ezek 37:19). God's plans thus include the remnant and 
exile of Israel as well as Judah. 

Manasseh and the Samaritan Temple 

It will be shown below that a crucial factor in the "Judaizing" 
of the Samaritans was the erection of the Samaritan temple on 
Mt. Gerizim and the creation of the Samaritan high-priesthood by 
Manasseh, Jewish son-in-law of Sanballat III. Modern critics usually 
recognize that Samaritanism shows a strong dependence on and 
indebtedness to post-exilic Judaism.*' Cross indicates that 

it is evident that the religion of Samaria derived from Judaism. Its 
feasts and law, conservatism toward Torah and theological develop- 
ment, show few survivals from the old Israelite religion as distinct from 
Judean religion, and no real evidence of religious syncretism. Even the 
late Jewish apocalyptic has left a firm imprint on Samaritanism.^^ 

Such a perspective allows one to explain not only Samaritanism's 
conservative (Pentateuchal) Jewishness, but also its early striking 
similarities to the priestly Sadducees. 

The foreign gods 

Before leaving the subject of the foreign colonists, it will perhaps 
be instructive to note whence they came and what kind of religions 
they brought to Samaria. According to 2 Kgs 17:24, the settlers came 
from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (the location 
of Avva is unknown, but may be identical with the Ivvah of 2 Kgs 
18:34,*^ which is also unknown). 


'^Frank M. Cross, "Aspects of Samaritan and Jewish History in Late Persian and 
Hellenistic Times," HTR 59 (1966) 205-6. 
""Avva," /Sfif, 1.340. 

brindle: the Samaritans 65 

Babylon was defeated by Sargon II in 710 B.C. and again by 
Sennacherib in 703, 700, and 695.*'' Tadmor feels that it was Sen- 
nacherib, being anti-Babylonian, who carried off people from Babylon 
and Cuthah to Samaria.*^ 

Cuthah was also one of the most important cities of Babylonia, 
situated about twenty miles northeast of Babylon.*^ It was destroyed 
by Sennacherib. Apparently these deportees were predominant among 
the colonists, for the Samaritans were long called Cutheans by the 

Hamath was a city of Syria about 125 miles north of Damascus, 
on the Orontes River. Sargon II destroyed it in 720 b.c.*^ Sepharvaim 
was probably a Syrian town captured by Shalmaneser also called 
Shabarain,** located between Hamath and Damascus.*^ 

Seven gods are listed among the religious/ cultural baggage of the 
immigrants. (1) Succoth-Benoth means, "tabernacles or booths of 
girls" in Hebrew. It has been identified with Sarpanitu, the consort of 
Marduk, god of Babylon. '° She also appears as the "seed-creating 
one." (2) Nergal was the god of pestilence, disease, and various other 
calamities.^' He was worshipped with his consort Ereshkigal at 
Cuthah. Temples at other sites (Larsa, Isin, Assur, etc.) were also 
dedicated to him. (3) Nothing is known of Ashima, though the 
suggestion has been made that it is a corruption of Asherah the 
Canaanite mother-goddess.^^ (4) Nibhaz perhaps refers to a "deified 
altar."^^ On the other hand, it may have been worshiped in the form 
of an ass.'" (5) Tartak is possibly a corruption of Atargatis, a goddess 
worshiped in Mesopotamia.'^ (6) Adrammelech means "Adar is 

^''Donald J. Wiseman, "Babylon, OT," ZPEB. 1.444; cf. Merrill, Survey, 278; 
Bright, History, 285. 

Tadmor, "Period," 137. 
*'R. Clyde Ridall, "Cuthah," ZPEB, 1.1050; cf. John Gray, I & II Kings, 2nd ed. 
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1970)651; Montgomery, Kings, 472. 
"'Gray, Kings, 651; Steven Barabas, "Hamath," ZPEB, 3.22. 
Montgomery, Kings, All; Gray, Kings, 652; Andrew Bowling, "Sepharvaim," 
ZPEB, 5.342; cf. Albright, Yahweh, 241. 

T. G. Pinches, "Sepharvaim," ISBE, 4.2722. 

Gray, Kings, 654; Montgomery, Kings, 473; Harvey E. Finley, "Succoth-Benoth," 
ZPEB, 5.529. 

"Albright, Yahweh, 139; Larry L. Walker, "Nergal," ZPEB, 4.410; cf. Gray, Kings, 
654; Herrmann, History, 251. 

"Duncan Mcintosh, "Ashima," /i'SE, 1979 ed., 1.318. 

"Gray, Kings, 654; Wilber B. Wallis. "Nibhaz," ZPEB, 4.434; Montgomery, Kings, 

'"Steven Barabas, "Tartak," ZPEB, 5.603. 


king,"^^ and may be related to the god Athtar — Venus Star (Atar- 
Milki).^^ (7) Anammelech means "Anu is king." Anu was the great 
sky-god of Babylonia.^* The latter two gods were Syrian or Canaanite 
deities, and their worship included the offering of children as burnt 
offerings (2 Kgs 17:31). 

As was mentioned above, there is no sign of the worship of these 
deities in later Samaritanism. Though their influence continued among 
many of the foreign families even to the time of the Babylonian 
captivity of Judah (2 Kgs 17:41), this does not imply an inherent 
syncretism among the Samaritans of NT times. 

Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah 

When the Jewish exiles had returned to Jerusalem and laid the 
foundation for the second temple (ca. 535 B.C.), the descendants of 
the foreign colonists came to Jerusalem and asked to take part, claim- 
ing that they were true worshipers of Yahweh. Ezra relates the inci- 
dent as follows: 

Now when the enemies of Judah and Benjamin heard that the 
people of the exile were building a temple to the Lord God of Israel, 
they approached Zerubbabel and the heads of fathers' households, and 
said to them, "Let us build with you, for we, like you, seek your God; 
and we have been sacrificing to Him since the days of Esarhaddon king 
of Assyria, who brought us up here." But Zerubbabel and Jeshua and 
the rest of the heads of father's households of Israel said to them, "You 
have nothing in common with us in building a house to our God; but 
we ourselves will together build to the Lord God of Israel, as King 
Cyrus, the king of Persia has commanded us." (Ezra 4:1-3) 

Thus began another round of conflict between the people of 
Samaria (cf. Ezra 4:10) and the Jews. The former are here called 
"enemies of Judah and Benjamin" (v 1). This does not imply that they 
were considered enemies before their later attempt to stop the con- 
struction of the temple and the city, linger notes that "in the refusal 
no charge of hypocrisy was made against them."'"° It was only that 

'^''Willis J. Beecher, "Adrammelech," /SfiE, L61. 

''Gray, Kings, 654; Andrew K. Helmbold, "Adrammelech," ZPEB, 1.64; but cf. 
Albright, Yahweh, 24\. 

'^William W. Hallo and William K. Simpson, The Ancient Near East: A History 
(New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1971) 170; Gray, Kings, 655; Steven 
Barabas, "Anammelech," ZPEB, 1.153. 

''William Sanford LaSor, "Anammelech," ISBE, 1979 ed., 1.120. 

linger. Dictionary, 959; Bright, however, regards their religion as "surely some- 
what synchretistic" (History, 383). Perhaps a combination of nationalistic, racial, and 
religious motives was involved in the Jews' response (cf. William Barclay, et. al.. The 

brindle: the Samaritans 67 

the right to build belonged to the Jews, and they could have no part 

• •. 101 

in It. 

linger asks, "Were the Jews right?" He concludes that they 
apparently knew what they were doing, but that "their course in 
regard to aliens and children of mixed marriages, as shown in 
Ezra 10:3, and indicated in Neh 13:1, 3 . . . , though natural and 
probably justifiable under the circumstances, was yet, so far as we 
know, somewhat in advance of what God had required." '°^ Even 
aliens were allowed to eat the Passover if they were circumcised (cf. 
Exod 12:44,48,49). 

When Ezra arrived in Jerusalem (ca. 457 b.c), he was appalled 
at the news that many of the people, including priests and Levites, 
had intermarried with "the peoples of the lands" (Ezra 9:1-3). He 
confessed this sin to God, quoting Exod 34:15-16 and Deut 7:3, which 
forbade the Hebrews under Moses and Joshua to marry the people of 
the land of Canaan, which they were about to enter, because of their 
"abominations" (Ezra 9:12, 14). He thus saw himself in the role of a 
new Moses, delivering and applying the Law of God to the returned 
exiles exactly as Moses had done to the new nation of Israel 1,000 
years earlier. The "Canaanites, Hittites, Jebusites," etc., of old became 
the Samaritans, etc., of the post-exilic period, in spite of their claim 
to be worshiping Yahweh and following his Law. Ezra led the people 
to put away their foreign wives (Ezra 10:2-5) and even made a list of 
those who had married outside Jewry (10:17-44). 

Nehemiah arrived about 444 B.C. as a special representative of 
the Persian king and was opposed by Sanballat, governor of Samaria 
(Neh 2:10). Apparently, Judah had been added to the province of 
Samaria by Nebuchadnezzar. Sanballat thus recognized that Nehe- 
miah was creating a new political entity centered in Jerusalem and 
that this territory would be taken from his control. '°^ Sanballat was a 

Bible and History [Nashville: Abingdon, 1968] 130, 159). Derek Kidner (Ezra and 
Nehemiah, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries [InterVarsity, 1979] 49) suggests 
that the Jews left their real (religious) motives unspoken. 

In the light of Ezra 4:2, Bishop (Eric F. F. Bishop, "Some Relationships of 
Samaritanism with Judaism, Islam and Christianity," The Moslem World 37 [1947] 
129) cannot be right when he says that "the Samaritans felt that the rebuilding of the 
Temple postponed the day when the Judeans might return to the true fold, and 
acknowledge the sanctuary on Gerizim rather than on Moriah," since they obviously 
had not yet (in 525 B.C.) developed the idea of a rival sanctuary for Yahweh on 

'"^Unger, Dictionary, 959; cf. Deut 7:1-4; 23:3; Exod 34:15-16; Judg 3:5-6; Mai 

""James L. Kelso, "Samaritans," ZPEB 5.245; Barclay, et. al., Bible and History, 
130; cf. Herrmann, History, 308. 


worshiper of Yahweh,'°'' as were most of the people of the province. 
This conflict, therefore, was a political one, not a religious issue. As 
Gaster shows, the Samaritans had a two-fold fear: that (1) Nehemiah's 
work in Jerusalem might lead to the growth of a dangerous Judean 
power, and that (2) it might provoke repercussions from the Persian 
Government that would work against them also.'"^ Nehemiah pre- 
vailed, however, in spite of Sanballat's opposition (cf. Neh 2:19-20; 
4:1-2, 6-7; 6:1, 15-16), fortified the city, and increased its population. 
Nehemiah's separatism may have fueled the Samaritan-Jew alien- 
ation. He records in Neh 13:1-3 these words: 

On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the 
hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no 
Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because 
they did not meet the sons of Israel with bread and water, but hired 
Balaam against them to curse them. However, our God turned the 
curse into a blessing. So it came about, that when they heard the law, 
they excluded all foreigners from Israel. 

Note that the command to exclude Ammonites and Moabites 
from the assembly was extended under Nehemiah to exclude "all 
foreigners from Israel," regardless of ethnic mixture or religious 
practice. The Samaritans were automatically included in this group. 

Toward the end of his governorship, Nehemiah discovered that 
one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, had 
married a daughter of Sanballat. He was so furious that he chased the 
young man out of Jerusalem (Neh 13:28). And so, he says, "I purified 
them from everything foreign" (13:30). 

Naturally, the reaction of the Yahweh-worshiping Samaritans 
was resentment. They were faced with deciding what was the best way 
to worship the Lord apart from the Jerusalem cult. This led them 
inevitably to an even more crucial estrangement from Judaism about 
a century later. 

The Samaritan Temple on Gerizim 

According to Haacker, "The most important single event in the 
history of the rise of the Samaritan community was probably the 
construction of the temple to Yahweh on Mount Gerizim towards the 
end of the 4th cent. b.c."'°^ Josephus relates the episode generally as 
follows:''^' Darius HI of Persia (336-331 B.C.)'"* sent to Samaria a 

'"""Bright, History, 383; James L. Kelso, "Samaritans," 5.245. 

'"^Caster, "Samaritans," 192. 

""Klaus Haacker, "Samaritan," NIDNTT, 3.451. 

'"'Josephus, /t«/. 11.8.2-4. 

'"^George E. Wright, "The Samaritans at Shechem," HTR 55 (1962) 361. 

brindle: the Samaritans 69 

Cuthean named Sanballat to be governor. This Sanballat gave his 
daughter Nikaso to be the wife of Manasseh, a brother of the high 
priest Jaddua, in order to develop good relations with the Jews in 
Jerusalem. The elders in Jerusalem, however, resented this marriage 
to a foreigner, and ordered Manasseh to have the marriage annulled. 
Sanballat, confident of the good will of Darius, promised Manasseh 
the high priesthood of the Samaritans. So Manasseh stayed with 
Sanballat, thinking that Darius would give him the high priesthood. 
Many from Jerusalem deserted to Manasseh, and Sanballat gave them 
money, land, and places to live. 

When Alexander the Great began his campaigns against Darius, 
Sanballat and Manasseh were certain that Darius would win. The 
opposite happened. So in 332 B.C. when Alexander was besieging 
Tyre, Sanballat went up to see him, offered him 8,000 Samaritans to 
fight for him, and accepted his rule. In return Alexander gave his 
consent for the Samaritans to build a temple on Mt. Gerizim, since 
Manasseh, brother of the Jewish high priest, and many of the Jewish 
people had defected to Samaria, which became the natural refuge "for 
all who were dissatisfied with the stringent reforms taking place in 
Jerusalem.""'^ Alexander apparently considered it an advantage to 
have the Jews split into two groups, instead of being united;"" he was 
also grateful for the military support.'" So the temple was built (very 
quickly) and Manasseh was appointed its high priest. Sanballat died 
after Alexander had spent seven months on the siege of Tyre and two 
months on the siege of Gaza. 

Given the remarkable similarity of this story of the priest 
Manasseh to the account of the priestly son of Joiada by Nehemiah 
(13:28), many have doubted the historical accuracy of Josephus at 
this point. The Jewish Encyclopedia says, "It is most unlikely that 
there were two Sanballats whose daughters married sons (or a son 
and a brother) of high priests, and that these sons were expelled from 
Jerusalem at dates just 100 years apart, ""^ and it concludes that 
Josephus intentionally tried to discredit Samaritan claims by connect- 
ing the temple with Manasseh as a bribe for his apostasy. 

Rowley declares that Josephus' account is so "garbled" that there 
is "no means of knowing when the Samaritan Temple was built." "^ 
linger assumes that it was Nehemiah who expelled Manasseh, and 
places the building of the temple about 409 B.C."'' Others say that 

A. Co., "Samaritans," yeu'w/i Encyclopaedia, 10.671. 

Wright, "Samaritans," 361. 
"'Haacker, "Samaritan," 451. 

Co., "Samaritans," 67 1 . 
"^Harold H. Rowley, "Sanballat and the Samaritan Temple," BJRL 38 (1955) 

""Unger, Dictionary, 959. 


Josephus has confused two separate incidents (the expulsion of 
Manasseh and the building of the temple), while some even move 
Nehemiah down into the fourth century."^ 

Until recently there was no evidence outside of Josephus for two 
Sanballats. A Sanballat is mentioned in the Elephantine papyri, but 
he is clearly the contemporary of Nehemiah."^ 

But in 1962-63, papyri of the fourth century B.C. were discovered 
in a cave of the Wadi Daliyeh north of Jericho."^ The name San- 
ballat appears twice, described as the father of Hananiah, governor of 
Samaria in 354 B.C. Now the Sanballat of Nehemiah's day was suc- 
ceeded by his sons Delaiah and Shelemiah in the last decade of the 
fifth century."^ So the father of Hananiah would be Sanballat II 
(perhaps ca. 380-360 B.C.). If so, then the objections to a Sanballat III 
as governor in 332 B.C. disappear. High offices often were heredi- 
tary."^ And the practice of papponymy (naming a child for its grand- 
father) was much in vogue during this era.'^° 

We can reconstruct with some plausibility, therefore, the sequence 
of governors of Samaria in the fifth and fourth century. Sanballat the 
Horonite is evidently the founder of the line, to judge by the fact that 
he bears a gentilic, not a patronymic. He was a Yahwist, giving good 
Yahwistic names to his sons Delaiah and Shelemiah. Sanballat I must 
have been a mature man to gain the governorship, and in 445, when 
Nehemiah arrived, no doubt was already in his middle years. His son 
Delaiah acted for his aged father as early as 410. The grandson of 
Sanballat, Sanballat II, evidently inherited the governorship early in 
the fourth century, to be succeeded by an elder son (Yeshua*^?), and 
later by his son Hananiah. Hananiah was governor by 354 B.C., and his 
son, or his brother's son, Sanballat III, succeeded to the governorship 
in the time of Darius III and Alexander the Great.'"' 

Thus Wright concludes that Josephus' story about the founding 
of the temple on Mt. Gerizim by permission of Alexander the Great is 
substantially reliable.' " It was the founding of this rival temple which 
did more than anything else to aggravate the traditional bad relations 
between Samaritan and Jew. 

'Cross, "Aspects," 203. 
^Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch. 103. 
Cross, "Aspects," 20 1 . 
^Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch. 104. 
'Cross, "Aspects," 203. 

°Ibid.; of. the Tobiads of Ammon and the Oniads of Judah. 
'Cross, "Aspects," 204. 
'Wright, "Samaritans," 364. 

brindle: the Samaritans 71 

Some have contended that "the mere existence of a Temple on 
Mount Gerizim need not itself have involved an irreparable breach. "'^^ 
They point to other Jewish temples at Elephantine in Upper Egypt in 
the fifth century B.C., at Leontopolis in Lower Egypt in the second 
century B.C., and at "^Araq el-^Emir in Transjordan.'^^^ 

However, only the Gerizim temple became a real challenge to the 
Jerusalem temple, because it represented a considerable political fac- 
tion and was also a rival for the allegiance of Yahweh-worshipers of 
the north. '^^ The Jews understood the prophets and Deuteronomy to 
point to Jerusalem as the only legitimate place for sacrifice, at least in 

The new temple on Gerizim would have provided the base for a 
distinct and separate religious community. It also provided a "Jewish" 
priest, who probably brought with him a copy of the Pentateuch and 
began to teach the people the ways of God and worship along a line 
which became more and more Mosaic. The temple drove a wedge 
between the two communities, which in time was to split them into 
two hostile groups. 

The Destruction of Samaria and the Rebuilding of Shechem 

When Alexander the Great had finished with Tyre and Gaza, he 
installed Andromachus as governor of Syria (including Palestine) and 
went south to invade Egypt. '^^ In 331 B.C., the city of Samaria revolted 
and burned the governor alive. Alexander immediately marched north 
against Samaria and captured it. Those who had killed Andromachus 
fled with their families to the Wadi Daliyeh, where they were found in 
a cave and suffocated to death by Alexander's soldiers. '^^ Alexander 
then resettled Samaria with Macedonians and made the city a Greek 

The Samaritans were then forced to establish a new capital, and 
the logical place was old Shechem. '^^ It was a time-honored site, 
hallowed by the most ancient Hebrew traditions and adjacent to the 
holy mountain of Gerizim on which a new temple had just been built. 
With the development of Shechem, the Samaritan religious and cul- 
tural center was firmly established.'^^ 

Rowley, "Samaritan Temple," 189. 
'"'^Haacker, "Samaritan," 45 1 . 
''""Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 12. 
'^'Wright, Shechem, 178. 

'^'Frank M. Cross, "The Historical Importance of the Samaria Papyri," BARevA 

Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 107. 
'■^Wright, "Samaritans," 365; cf. Cross, "Aspects," 25. 
'"Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 109. 


Waltke says that Wright has conclusively shown that Shechem 
was Samaria's replacement as the Samaritan capital after Alexander 
captured Samaria. '^° This accounts for: (1) the archaeological evi- 
dence for the reestablishment of Shechem in the late fourth century, 
after having been virtually uninhabited during the Persian period; 
(2) the elaborate attempts the Samaritans made to refortify Shechem — 
to maintain their claims against the Jews; (3) Josephus' implication 
that Shechem was the Samaritan capital in the period of Alexander 
and thereafter (cf. Ant. 1 1.8.6-7); and (4) Sir 50:25-26 (ca. 180 B.C.), 
which refers to "the foolish people who dwell in Shechem."'^' 

Bickerman notes that "it often happened that when a Greek 
colony was established, native villages under its control formed a 
union around an ancestral sanctuary." '^^ It was possibly after such 
a pattern that the Samaritans were organized at Shechem and 
Mt. Gerizim. There can be little doubt that the city was rebuilt by the 
remnant of the Samaritans driven out of their newer capital at 

The Destruction of the Temple and Shechem 

With their establishment at Shechem and Gerizim, the Samaritans 
began a long and painful process of self-identification.'^'* And the 
enmity toward Jerusalem and the Jews grew rapidly. 

Josephus relates that when Alexander granted the Jews freedom 
from tribute every seventh year, the Samaritans requested it also, 
claiming to be Jews.'^** But whenever any Jew was accused by the 
authorities at Jerusalem of breaking the Law or of any other crime, 
he would flee to Shechem and say that he was unjustly accused. 

About 193 B.C., Antiochus III gave Samaria and Judaea to 
Ptolemy Epiphanes as his daughter Cleopatra's dowry. Josephus says 
that during this time the Samaritans were flourishing and doing much 
mischief to the Jews by cutting off parts of their land and "carrying 
off slaves."'^'' 

When Antiochus Epiphanes was harrassing Judea (ca. 168- 
67 B.C.), the Samaritans at Shechem sent a letter to him disclaim- 
ing any relationship to Jews or to their God and asked that their 

Bruce K. Waltke, "Review of The Samaritans, by James A. Montgomery," BSac 

'"Wright, "Samaritans," 359, 365-66. 
Elias Bickerman, From Ezra lb the Last of the Maccabees (New York: Schocken, 

Cross, "Aspects," 207. 
''■"Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 109. 
'■''^Josephus, /1/7/. 11.8.6-7. 
"'Ibid., 12.4.1. 

brindle: the Samaritans 73 

temple on Gerizim be named the Temple of Zeus Hellenios/^' It 
is this opportunism which Haacker labels "decisive for the ultimate 
schism."'^* Thus, the Samaritans escaped persecution, while the Jews 
resisted with their lives. The success of the Maccabean revolt led later 
to the expansion of Judaea at the expense of Samaria (cf. 1 Mace 
10:38; 11:24,57). 

Josephus relates an interesting story which supposedly took place 
in Alexandria (Egypt) about 150 B.C. in the days of Ptolemy Philo- 
meter. The Jews and Samaritans there were disputing about which 
temple was the true one. Ptolemy became the judge at a debate, and 
the Jewish side won, appealing to the Law and the succession of high 
priests and the age and prestige of the Jerusalem temple. '^^ (The 
appeal to Moses and the priesthood shows that the basic Samaritan 
doctrines had already solidified in general form by this time.) 

John Hyrcanus (134-104 B.C.) decided to put an end to the 
Samaritan rivalry. In 128 B.C. he destroyed the temple on Mt. Gerizim, 
and in 107 B.C. he destroyed both Samaria and Shechem.''*° Purvis 
sees several motivating factors behind these acts.''*' First, the Samari- 
tan temple was an irritating and divisive factor in Palestine. Second, 
animosities between Shechem and Jerusalem had been rapidly in- 
creasing, leading to actual harrassment by the Samaritans. And third, 
Hyrcanus wanted to solidify the extent of Judaean authority and hold 
firmly to the "inheritance of our fathers" (1 Mace 15:33-34). 

The Samaritans must have breathed a sigh of relief when Pompey 
conquered Palestine in 64-63 B.C. They developed good relations with 
both the Romans (until a.d. 52) and the house of Herod (which was 
closely tied to Rome).'"^ Shortly after a.d. 70, Emperor Flavius Ves- 
pasian rebuilt Shechem (about one-half mile west of the old city) and 
named it Flavia Neapolis (New City), which survives as the modern 
city of Nablus."'^ 

The Samaritan Pentateuch 

The Samaritan recension of the Pentateuch also played its part 
in the development of the sect. Purvis believes that "the Samaritan 
Pentateuch is the chief sectarian monument of the community, and it 

'Ibid.. 12.5.5. 

Haacker, "Samaritan," 452. 
'josephus. Ant. 13.3.4. 
"Wright, Shechem, 183-84; cf. Josephus, Ant. 13.10.2,3. 

Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 113-15. 
'Haacker, "Samaritan," 452. 
'Bishop, "Relationships," 1 12. 


is hardly possible to conceive of Samaritanism as a sect apart from 

The most prized possession of modern Samaritanism is its scroll 
of the Pentateuch, known as the Abisha scroll.'''^ Abu^l Fath, in his 
Chronicle (written in a.d. 1355), says that the Abisha scroll was "dis- 
covered" in a.d. 1355."'^ Crown contends that the scroll is "not to be 
regarded as a unitary work, but as a manuscript assemblage of frag- 
ments of various ages."''*' He believes that Abisha, son of the high 
priest Pinhas (d. a.d. 1364), fabricated the scroll between a.d. 1341 
and A.D. 1354.''*^ Whatever the case, similar scrolls are also in exis- 
tence, and the text type is definitely pre-masoretic. The date of this 
recension is helpful in determining the time of the Samaritan emer- 
gence from Judaism as a distinct sect. 

Purvis, in his exhaustive study of the Samaritan text, offers the 
following observations and conclusions:'"*^ 

(1) The script of the Samaritan Pentateuch is a sectarian script 
which developed from the paleo-Hebrew forms of the Hasmonean 
period. This script is not a descendant of the paleo-Hebrew of the 
earlier Persian or Greek periods or of the later Roman period. 

(2) The orthography of the Samaritan Pentateuch is the standard 
full orthography of the Hasmonean period, which contrasts with the 
restricted orthography seen in the Pentateuchal text of the earlier 
Greek and the later Rabbinic periods. 

(3) The textual tradition of the Samaritan Pentateuch is one of 
three textual traditions which are now known to have been in use in 
Palestine during the Hasmonean period. Moreover, it is most likely 
that this textual tradition completed its development during this 
period, rather than at an earlier time. 

(4) When the final break between the Shechemites and the Jews 
was consummated, the Samaritans took as the basis of their biblical 
text proto-Samaritan tradition, a Palestinian text type preserved in 
the paleo-Hebrew script. The proto-Samaritan had been in process of 
development from the Old Palestinian textual tradition from the fifth 
to the second centuries B.C., when it reached its fullest stage of devel- 
opment during the Hasmonean era. Hebrew orthography also reached 
its fullest stage of development at this time, and the comparable 
phenomena of full text and full orthography may be due to more 

Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 13-14. 

'Alan D. Crown, "The Abisha Scroll of the Samaritans," BJRL 58 (1975). 36. 
'Ibid., 39. 
'Ibid., 37. 
'Purvis, Samaritan Pentateuch, 16-17, 84-85, 1 18. 

brindle: the Samaritans 75 

than coincidence. For their sectarian recension, the Samaritans se- 
lected the full text of the proto-Samaritan tradition and the full 
orthography in vogue at that time. 

(5) The complete and irreparable break in relations between the 
Samaritans and the Jews occurred neither in the Persian nor the 
Greek periods. It occurred in the Hasmonean period as the result of 
the destruction of Shechem and the ravaging of Gerizim by John 

Waltke declares that "Professor Cross has now shown that the 
Samaritan recension proper branches off in the early Hasmonean 
Period." '^° Cross concludes as follows: 

We can now place the Samaritan Pentateuch in the history of the 
Hebrew biblical text. It stems from an old Palestinian tradition which 
had begun to develop distinctive traits as early as the time of the 
Chronicler, and which can be traced in Jewish works and in the manu- 
scripts of Qumran as late as the first century of the Christian era. This 
tradition was set aside in the course of the 1st century in Jerusalem in 
favor of a tradition of wholly different origin (presumably from Baby- 
lon), which provided the base of the Massoretic Recension. . . . The 
Samaritan text-type thus is a late and full exemplar of the common 
Palestinian tradition, in use both in Jerusalem and in Samaria.'^' 


The development of Samaritanism and its alienation from Judaism 
may thus be seen as a process with important milestones which pro- 
moted the antagonism: (1) the division of the kingdom into north 
and south (ca. 931 B.C.); (2) the conquest of Israel by Assyria, with 
resulting importation of foreign colonists and religions (ca. 722- 
630 B.C.); (3) the rejection of the new Samaritan community by 
Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and later leaders (ca. 535-332 B.C.); 
(4) the building of a rival temple on Mt. Gerizim (332 B.C.); (5) the 
reconstruction of Shechem as the capital of the Samaritans, followed 
by growing harrassment of Jews (ca. 332-170 B.C.); (6) political and 
religious opportunism shown by the Samaritans during the persecu- 
tions of Antiochus IV (ca. 168-67 B.C.); (7) the destruction by John 
Hyrcanus of both the Samaritan temple and Shechem (ca. 128, 
107 B.C.); and (8) growing hostilities and harrassment on both sides 
during the next several centuries. 

Waltke, "Review," 84. 
'Cross, "Aspects," 208-9. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 77-93 


David Alan Black 

This essay is gratefully dedicated to Dr. Harry A. Sturz, 

scholar, teacher, colleague, friend. 

upon his retirement from Biola University. 

The NT words for weakness have a distinctive place in the theo- 
logical and ethical vocabulary of the apostle Paul. The central idea in 
Paul's conception of weakness is that the greatest revelation of divine 
power has occurred in the person and work of Jesus Christ in the 
midst of his human and earthly existence. This article explores the 
way in which the apostle applies this perspective to his teaching on 
anthropology, christology, and ethics. The author concludes that this 
unique perspective of Paul is of tremendous importance for the church 
today. Through weakness the power of Christ finds its fullest expression 
in the apostle, in his apostolic mission, in the communities he founded, 
and in all those whom the Spirit of God indwells, both then and now. 


IN the Gospels and Acts, as well as the majority of NT epistles, there 
is no development of the theme of weakness into a broad theological 
motif such as one can discern in the writings of the apostle Paul. It is 
obvious merely from a count of the occurrences of doGeveia, etc., in 
the different books of the NT how predominantly it is a Pauline 
word.' It is missing altogether from 2 Peter, Jude, the Johannine 
epistles and Revelation. In James and 1 Peter, it occurs only once, 
and in Mark only twice. In all the non-Pauline writings the root 
appears only 39 times, and of these occurrences the great majority are 
in the Gospels, where it has the simple meaning of illness. In contrast 
to this, 44 instances of it occur in the Pauline corpus of letters, more 
than all the rest of the NT writings combined, and in much smaller 

'Cf. R. Morgenthaler, Statistik des neutestamentlichen Wortschdtzes (Zurich: Gott- 
helf, 1958) 79. 


compass, being limited primarily to his chief epistles, Romans and 1 
and 2 Corinthians. 

Numbers alone prove that da9ev8ia must be regarded as a charac- 
teristic Pauline word, but over and above the significance of quantity 
is the special meaning it comes to bear in his letters. Paul has made 
the word the vehicle of a profoundly important element in his teaching 
and parenesis. Even a casual reading of the relevant passages reveals 
in Paul a deeper insight into its essential meaning and content and a 
stricter unity and consistency than that of any other author. Only the 
writer of Hebrews, who himself may have been a Paulinist, can be 
said to approximate the depth and meaning of the Pauline usage.' 

Although valuable investigations of the terms for weakness have 
been published in recent years, it may be convenient to have a brief 
synopsis of Paul's ideas on the subject and of how they differ from 
those found elsewhere. By so doing, the basic literary unity and theo- 
logical perspective of the motif in Paul may be brought out in a more 
integrated manner. At the very least, it is hoped that this synopsis will 
open up some new possibilities of interpretation which may then be 
assimilated into further studies of the terms. 


In the Pauline letters there is no complete or fully developed 
"doctrine" of weakness or description of the circumstances that call it 

'The author of Hebrews infuses the word with theological significance when he 
writes that Christ is able to sympathize with the weaknesses of men (4:15), and when he 
describes the heroes of faith as those whose "weakness was turned to strength" (1 1:34; 
NIV), a magnificent summary of the writer's concept of faith as that which overcomes 
and is always driving forward, never retreating. In the Gospels, scattered instances of a 
theological usage, such as Jesus' statement on Olivet that the flesh is dc!Qevr\c, in 
contrast to the spirit which is Kp6Qv\iOv {not SuvatTi !) in Mark 14:38, or John's 
reference to an daGeveia npoq Gdvaxov (John 11:4), are the exceptions which prove 
the rule. 

^See the useful, albeit brief, summaries by G. Stahlin, "da0evTi(; kt>.," TDNT 1 
(1933) 490-93, and H.-G. Link, "Weakness, etc." A'/DA'rr3 ( 1978) 993-96. Important 
studies of the terms in specific contexts include those by J. Cambier, "Le critere 
paulinien de I'apostolat en 2 Co 12,6s," Bib 43 (1962) 481-518; E. Fuchs, "La faiblesse, 
gloire de I'apostolat selon Paul (Etude sur 2 Co 10-13)," ETR 2 (1980) 231-53; E. Gutt- 
gemanns, Der leidende Aposiel und sein Herr (FRLANT 90; Gottingen: Vandenhoeck 
& Ruprecht, 1966) 142-70; E. Kasemann, Die Legiiimitat des Apostels: Eine Unier- 
suchung zu II Korinther 10-13 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1956) 
37-43; M. Rauer, Die "Schwachen" in Korinih und Rom (BibS[F]21; Freiburg: Herder, 
1923); and G. Theissen, "Die Starken und Schwachen in Korinth," EvT35 (1975) 155- 
72. Mention might also be made of the popular work concerning the handicapped in 
the Bible, edited by H.-G. Schmidt and entitled. In der Schwache ist Kraft: Behinderte 
Menschen im Alien und Neuen Testament (Hamburg: Wittig, 1979). 

black: paulus infirmus 79 

forth. On the one hand, this is due to the intensely personal character 
of the theme, which does not always allow it to be described or 
represented systematically. On the other hand, and even more signifi- 
cantly, account must be taken of the character of Paul's writings as 
occasional letters to meet specific situations in particular churches, 
even if there is disagreement with respect to this character of his 
writings. The Pauline epistles are essentially pastoral in tone and 
content and, while they presuppose that Paul himself had a fairly 
well-developed concept of weakness, they give us only sporadic 
glimpses of its nature and contours. It should not be assumed, 
therefore, that the apostle's correspondence reveals the whole of his 
thinking regarding the subject of this study, nor is one entitled to 
reconstruct from such incomplete data a systematic theology of the 
apostle's thought concerning weakness. 

Despite the fragmentary nature of the data, however, it is evident 
that Paul's teaching regarding weakness and even the parenesis result- 
ing from it strongly reflect a high level of understanding on the part 
of the apostle. Even where we cannot be sure of his meaning due to 
insufficient data, we can elucidate enough of Paul's insight into Chris- 
tian weakness to form a fairly clear picture of the subject. For exam- 
ple, the notorious problem of Paul's "thorn in the flesh" — what he 
calls one of his "weaknesses" (2 Cor 12:7-10) — has given rise over the 
centuries to a myriad of suggestions regarding the character of the 
particular infirmity which had afflicted the apostle. No doubt specula- 
tive minds will advance fresh proposals, and their suggestions will 
rightly be welcomed. However, for present purposes, Paul's "thorn" 
does not demand a final conclusion, for by its very lack of definition 
it is of more benefit to us than would have been the case otherwise. It 
is enough to know that Paul "most gladly" and with full eagerness 
welcomed it because it had made him all the more aware of his 
Master's all-sufficient grace and dynamic power in the midst of his 
own weaknesses. 

The same thing can be said concerning the specific identity and 
religious conceptions of the "weak" in Corinth and Rome. To a certain 
extent it is important to know something of the weak and strong 
communities in both churches as well as something of Paul's resolution 
of the controversy between them. But certain matters, such as whether 
the weak are to be considered individuals or a party; whether their 
practices stem from a Judaistic, Gnostic, or Hellenistic background; 
whether they indeed abstain from wine and observe ceremonial holi- 
days; and whether they actually (or only hypothetically) exist in Rome, 

It should be noted that the emphasis in this familiar verse (2 Cor 12:9) is on the 
introductory words, "My grace is sufficient for you." The words, "for power is made 
perfect in weakness," serve only to explain that statement. 


are circumstantial questions that do not relate directly to the funda- 
mental principles which Paul introduces into the discussion. 

Although these questions are not without significance, it is clear 
that Paul's main contention, both in Romans 14 and 15 and in 1 Corin- 
thians 8-10, is to show how an established community can maintain 
its unity despite sharp differences of opinion. His answer is that love 
can tolerate even the most severe disagreements in matters of personal 
conviction and that such problems should be resolved in the interests 
of edification. Because Christ Jesus has accepted the weaker members 
of the church, for whom he died, so too the strong must accept and 
support them in an attitude of humility and love (cf. 1 Cor 8:9-13; 
Rom 14:1; 15:1). Our task at this point, therefore, is not to demon- 
strate with precision the identity of the weak (even if that were pos- 
sible), but to demonstrate how Paul deals with them. Indeed, for Paul 
the issue is not so much the immature view of the weak as it is the 
spirit of the so-called "strong" who condemn their weaker brothers. 
Thus the apostle deals with the problem of the rightness or wrongness 
of eating meat only as a side issue, seeking to give his full attention to 
the more serious spiritual problem so that he might lead both groups 
on to a fuller understanding and expression of their Christian liberty.^ 

When we speak of Paul's "theology" of weakness, we must re- 
member too that the theological is subordinated to the practical pur- 
pose to which he had devoted his life and labors. Manson wrote of 
the apostle, "He is a great Christian thinker; but he does not see the 
Gospel as the manifestation in time of some metaphysical principles 
or values. For Paul Christianity is not a system of ideas, but a series 
of events."^ Thus in the final analysis, Paul is not concerned with 
defending a doctrine or even with defending himself — "who is Paul 
and who is Apollos but ministers through whom you believed?" (1 Cor 
3:5). In Paul's mind the truth of the gospel was the important matter 
to be defended at all costs. Hence he is not interested in developing a 
theology of weakness, for it is at most only the wrapping of the true 
gospel. Christ himself is the core of Pauline theology; the concept of 
weakness is used only to defend and to define that core. 

One final point should be made by way of introduction: the 
significance of the Pauline weakness vocabulary without exception 
grows out of those concrete situations which he addressed in his 
letters. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the Corinthian letters, in 
which Paul finds himself forced to answer the criticisms of his oppo- 
nents regarding his own weakness. If Paul had never been attacked so 

R. N. Longenecker, Paul. Apostle of Lihertv (New York: Harper & Row, 1964) 

T. W. Manson, "Paul the Christian and Theologian," On Paul ami John (ed. 
M. Black; London: SCM, 1967) 11. 

black: paulus infirmus 81 

viciously by the opposition in Corinth, we might forever have gone 
without his long narrative concerning weakness in 2 Corinthians 10- 
13. This lengthy passage, so vital to a clear understanding of Paul's 
concept of weakness, is available to us today (humanly speaking) 
because of the failures of certain early Christians. Paul develops espe- 
cially his christological ideas of weakness in direct relationship with 
the church at Corinth, seeing this as the most effective way to handle 
the issues undermining his work among his converts. The emphasis 
upon Paul's personal weakness is also essentially restricted to the 
Corinthian audience, apparently because the subject was a matter of 
heated debate. The language of weakness thus conveyed a special 
meaning to Paul's Corinthian readers, a fact which explains why the 
terms are not employed with frequency in his other writings, both 
earlier and later. ^ 

Any study of the Pauline weakness motif must, therefore, take 
into consideration Paul's concern to be relevant to the Christians to 
whom he writes. Nowhere in his letters does he attempMo systematize 
his teaching on weakness. The apostle himself seems oblivious to the 
pattern and principles which we will offer as "Paul's" theology of 
weakness. On the other hand, since the apostle certainly does have his 
own ideas about weakness, every attempt to discern the broad outlines 
of these ideas is appropriate. 


Although it would be unjust to Paul, and to ourselves, to con- 
struct a systematic picture from such disparate material and then see 
the whole complex as determinative in any particular case, neverthe- 
less certain patterns do emerge, not only in those passages where 
weakness is a comparatively prominent theme, as in portions of 1 and 
2 Corinthians, but also in other less salient passages. Broadly con- 
ceived, the Pauline weakness motif is composed of three sub-themes: 

The Pauline usage from early to late stages reveals an erratic development when 
analyzed in strict chronological sequence. Yet a broad, bell-shaped developmental 
pattern emerges. Whereas in his earliest and latest epistles the words are rarely found, 
they figure prominently in Rom and 1 and 2 Cor, epistles which stem from the middle 
period of Paul's apostolic career and which are usually designated to be "doctrinal" in 
content. However, here they are important terms not only in Paul's theology but also 
in his ethical teaching. He develops the words into a major theme in the Corinthian 
correspondence, where weakness plays a significant role in the Pauline apostolic apolo- 
gia. In 2 Cor, where the attack against Paul is at its strongest, the largest complex of 
weakness language in the NT is to be found (14 occurrences). Why is Paul so defensive 
of his own infirmities in 2 Cor? Only because a misunderstanding of his weakness leads 
to error concerning the nature and acquisition of divine strength. Paul is strong, but 
only because he is "in Christ" (cf. 2 Cor 12:9, 10; 13:4). Otherwise he freely admits to 
being Paulus infirmus. 


the anthropological, the christological, and the ethical. These are the 
three inseparably related components of Paul's gospel as well, and 
understandably so, since the terms for weakness are used primarily to 
defend and to illuminate the apostle's preaching. 

Weakness as a Sign of Humanity 

The Pauline weakness motif is first of all anthropological because 
it presupposes that man's whole being is dependent upon God and 
that man, as a creature of God (like Adam), is susceptible to the 
limitations of all creation. Paul views man as a member of the present 
age which is characterized by transitoriness, suffering, and evil. In 
particular, the present age is under the control of Satan and has been 
infiltrated by sin which captures, enslaves, and ultimately kills man. 
Thus the concept of "weakness" becomes an apt designation for the 
extent of man's participation in the old aeon insofar as man is mortal 
and subject to the troubles, illnesses, and temptations of the pres- 
ent age. 

Closely associated with man's weakness, but not strictly identified 
with it, is his flesh (actp^). By definition, adp^ is the earthly part of 
man, denoting his physical and temporal existence. It may have "lusts" 
and "desires" (Eph 2:3), but in and of itself the flesh is not sinful. In 
Rom 6:19 the apostle refers to "the weakness of the flesh" which 
necessitates that he speak to the Romans using analogies drawn from 
the sphere of human relations. This is an accommodation to the 
weakness of man's understanding and to his inability to comprehend 
spiritual truth apart from a natural medium. Undoubtedly this weak- 
ness of understanding is bound up with man's sinful nature, which is 
"worldly" and "natural" as opposed to what is "spiritual" and "im- 
material" (cf. Rom 15:27; 1 Cor 3:1; 2 Cor 1:12). Yet Paul does not 
equate man's weakness with his sinfulness (even though in another 
context he can characterize the human condition by both concepts). 

'B. Reicke, "Body and Soul in the New Testament," ST 19 (1965) 201-204. 
The close collocation of "weak" (da9£veii;), "ungodly" (doePeii;), and "sinners" 
(d|iapTco>ioi) in Rom 5:6-8 does not imply a fundamental identification between these 
three terms, as has been noted by O. Kuss {Der Romerhrief[RegensbuTg: Pustet, 1957] 
I. 208) and M. Wolter {Rechtferligung unci zukiinftiges Heil. Vnlersuchungen zu Rom 
5. 1-11 [BZNW 43; Berlin: de Gruyter, 1978] 170). Paul uses doeeveig in the sense that 
man's helplessness under the law had been exposed and his inability to save himself 
had become apparent. However, it was not merely the helplessness of man, but also his 
godlessness and sinfulness that required the sacrifice of Christ on his behalf. The term 
doOeveii; must, then, emphasize the saving power of Christ, while the words doepeic; 
and d|iapT(o^oi underscore the redemptive efficacy of his atoning death. Nevertheless, 
the difference between what man cannot do (since he is weak) and what man is 
(ungodly and sintul) is not great, because the ungodly and sinful man is by definition a 

black: paulus infirmus 83 

The point of Paul's linking weakness with the flesh is simply to under- 
score the earthliness of his readers' faculties of comprehension, which 
forces him to describe the spiritual relationship between God and the 
Christian in such crude, human terms (cf. Rom 8:15). The flesh in this 
sense denotes the personality of man as directed toward earthly pur- 
suits rather than the service of God. 

This same connotation of weakness as human powerlessness over 
against God is found in Rom 8:26, where Paul refers to that infirmity 
of the Christian which requires the help of the Spirit's power, particu- 
larly in the matter of prayer. According to Paul, nothing lays bare 
the helplessness of the believer like his "prayer-weakness." This con- 
sists in the fact that he does not know what to pray for as he ought, 
that is, as is suited to the occasion and his necessities require. It is at 
this point that the Holy Spirit comes to his aid, praying for him in 
words which transcend articulated formulation, yet which ascend to 
the very throne of grace. This is one example among many passages 
in Paul where weakness is made parallel to the antithetical concept of 
power (usually 56va|ii(;)." The impotence and incapability of man 
that characterize the whole range of his earthly existence require 
divine intervention. In turn, man's infirmity becomes the place in 
which the help and power of God come to expression. 

The corresponding concept of man's "salvation-weakness" be- 
longs unquestionably to this same category. In its negative aspect. 

man without strength to help himself. Thus man's weakness is not sin, but the inability 
to save himself which the saving power of God's justifying act in Christ has overcome 
(cf. Rom 8:3). 

'"Much has been written on the participation of the Holy Spirit in the prayer-life 
of the believer. See A. Dietzel, "Beten im Geist," TZ 13 (1957) 12-32; E. Fuchs, "Der 
Anteil des Geistes am Glauben bei Paulus. Ein Beitrag zum Verstandnis von Romer 8," 
ZTK 11 (1975) 293-302; K. Niederwimmer, "Das Gebet des Geistes, Rom 8, 26f," TZ 
20 (1964) 252-65; P. Meyer, "The Holy Spirit in the Pauline Letters," Inl 33 (1979) 
3-18; C. Mitchell, "The Holy Spirit's Intercessory Ministry," BSac (1982) 230-42; 
P. von der Osten-Sacken, Romer 8 als Beispiel paulinischer Theologie (FRLANT 1 12; 
Gottingen; Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1975) 85-86, 93-95; and esp. W. Marchel, Abba. 
Pere! La priere du Christ et des chretiennes (AnBib 19; Rome: Pontifical Biblical 
Institute, 1963). The section of Marchel's dissertation dealing with "La priere 'Abba' et 
Taction du Saint-Esprit" (pp. 232-46) is well worth reading. 

'integrally connected with the understanding of Paul's concept of weakness is the 
opposite notion of strength. In some cases this background is brought into focus and 
the concept of strength is mentioned explicitly, whereas at other times the contrast is 
only implied. Paul specifically connects weakness with the opposite idea of power in 
1 Cor 1:25,26; 4:10; 15:43; 2 Cor 10:10; 12:5.9,10; 13:3,4,9; Rom 4:19; 5:6; 8:3; 14:1,2; 
15:1, passages which show the importance of both words in Paul's vocabulary. Paul 
often desired to remind his readers that the powerful apostle is also the weak and 
suffering one: Paulus potens is also Paulus infirmus. 


salvation refers to man's deliverance from sin and from bondage to 
the world with its decay and corruption. To execute this judgment 
upon sin the law is totally impotent, as Paul says, because it is "weak- 
ened by the flesh" (Rom 8:3).'^ But what the law was powerless to do 
is precisely what God did by sending his son in the likeness of sinful 
flesh and for sin. The law, as it is confronted with sin, reveals its own 
utter lack of redemptive efficiency, being deprived of its power by 
reason of the flesh. '^ It has become impotent; hence the person who 
looks to the law, and especially to the works of the law, as the way of 
salvation and acceptance with God remains in bondage to sin and its 
guilt, defilement, and power (Gal 4:9). Law as law, as commandment 
which demands obedience, does not have any potency or provision 
for the salvation of the sinner, who must therefore rely completely 
upon the power of another to accomplish his justification. The time 
of man's greatest helplessness was, however, the proper and fitting 
time for God's efficacious work to be wrought by the death of his son 
(Rom 5:6). The crucifixion of Christ belongs to "the fullness of the 
time" (Gal 4:4) and to "the consummation of the ages" (Heb 9:26) 
inasmuch as it was the time in which Christ subdued sin, thus fulfilling 
what the law and the flesh were powerless to accomplish. 

In another vein, Paul can also use the words in several instances 
in the specific sense of bodily weakness, i.e., physical illness, thus 
approximating the fundamental usage common to all literature in 
antiquity. He clearly uses the root for sickness with reference to his 
close companions in the ministry — Epaphroditus (Phil 2:26, 27), Tim- 
othy (1 Tim 5:23), and Trophimus (2 Tim 4:20). Paul probably uses 
the root for sickness with reference to himself when he speaks of an 
"infirmity of the flesh" as the cause for the initial preaching of the 
gospel among the Galatians (Gal 4: n).'"* If we are correct in conclud- 
ing that Paul is referring to a physical infirmity, we can think of this 
weakness as a particular disease or ailment, the specific diagnosis of 
which is, however, a mystery. 

Cases of illness among Christians in NT times indicate that the 
apostolic commission to heal (cf. Mark 16:18) could not be effected 
indiscriminately to heal oneself or one's friends. Normal means of 

"Among the discussions of law in this section of Romans, that by M. Limbeck 
stands out for its perceptiveness: Von der Olmmacht des Rechts. Ihuersuchungen zur 
Gesetzskritik des Neuen Testaments (Dusseldorf: Patmos, 1972) 84-91. 

""Das Gesetz offenbart den Willen Gottes. Aber es kann nicht die Erfiillung 
bewirken — es ist 'schwach' (Rom 8,3)." H. Conzelmann, Grundriss der Theologie des 
Neuen Testaments (Miinchen: Chr. Kaiser, 1967) 249. Similarly H. Hubner says the 
law was "depraved" by the flesh {Das Gesetz hei Paulus [FRLANT 119; Gottingen: 
Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978] 127). 

"Cf. D. A. Black. "Weakness Language in Galatians," GTJ 4 (1983) 15-36. 

black: paulus infirmus 85 

healing were available for Timothy's gastric problem, for instance; 
and even in the company of Paul, Trophimus became too ill to travel 
any further. The classical Pauline passage on illness (2 Cor 12:7-10) is 
in this respect most striking of all, in that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" 
remained with the apostle despite even the most intensive prayer for 
its removal. Paul states three reasons for its existence: to keep him from 
becoming proud because of his revelations and visions (v 7); to enable 
him to experience the power of Christ (v 9); and to teach him the true 
purpose of hardships, persecutions, and personal difficulties (v 10). 
Indeed, the entire passage is more concerned with the power and 
grace of the Lord than with the weakness of the apostle. Physical 
infirmity is evidence that the body "is sown in weakness" (1 Cor 
15:43) and is a cogent reminder of the creature's dependence upon the 
Creator. In this respect, the case of Paul is remarkably like that of 
Jacob, who learned to depend totally upon God only after he had 
been inflicted with a physical injury (Gen 32:24-32). These instances 
of illness suggest that the real issue in the matter of human suffering 
is man's relationship to God rather than his own physical condition, 
as painful as that may be. 

Sometimes there is a link between individual sin and individual 
suffering, though in the case of disease a direct connection may not 
be obvious. From the account of the Lord's Supper in 1 Cor 1 1:17-34 
it is clear that in the early church the penalty for unworthy participa- 
tion at the Eucharist was sickness, at times even death (1 Cor 1 1:30).'^ 
The Lord himself had caused this judgment to fall upon the Corinthi- 
ans in order that they might repent. However, if they had "discerned" 
themselves they would not have been judged and punished (v 31). The 
sin which Paul rebukes is therefore all the more serious, because the 
Christian who eats without respecting the body (of Christ) is in danger 
of attributing his own physical illness to natural causes, thus ignoring 
its purpose. 

Finally, it is important to realize that the Pauline conception of 
weakness in the anthropological sense is different from the common 
Greek conception of the body as something inherently evil. In Paul, 
human finiteness is emphasized, but never deprecated, in stark contrast 
to the neo-Platonic concept of the created world as a corruption of 
the original divine ideal. The Pauline conception is that of the weak- 
ness yet nobility of man, for in his thinking the human problem is sin. 

The implicit progression of thought from doGeveig to appcooToi to KoipcovTai in 
I Cor 1 1:30 suggests that doGeveii; is not merely synonymous with appcoatoi (despite 
their similar etymologies), but a term denoting a physical punishment of a less serious 
nature. "Weak" would suffice as a translation for the word, but perhaps the better term 
would be "sickly," signifying a disposition towards illness which ctppwoxoi more ex- 
plicitly connotes. 


not the infirmity, finiteness, and mortality which characterize all de- 
pendent life. Although the limitations of this physical life will be 
eradicated in the kingdom, weakness is a fact of human existence 
which cannot be evaded. Weakness is therefore not simply the occa- 
sional experience of sickness or powerlessness, but a fundamental 
mark of the individual's worldly existence. This emphasis permeates 
the whole of Paul's understanding of man and rests fundamentally on 
an anthropological basis. 

Weakness as the Showplace of God's Might 

In a second line of thought, Paul speaks of weakness as the 
platform from which the power of God is exhibited in the world. This 
aspect of weakness is quite different in character from the preceding 
anthropological category. In general, weakness as mere humanness is 
directed toward man's participation in the created order, with no 
further thought in mind and (in secular authors) no consideration of 
divine intervention. Now, however, weakness takes on a whole new 
dimension as it is focused and defined by Paul's christology. Through 
the death and resurrection of Christ God's power becomes operative 
in man's mortal existence so that the believer in Jesus is one who is 
united with Christ in weakness and power. This emphasis upon the 
believer's participation in the death and resurrection of Christ, seen 
most clearly in Romans and 2 Corinthians,'^ is of great importance as 
it concerns the significance and meaning of the Pauline weakness 
motif. When Paul speaks of "weakness" in this sense, he is no longer 
speaking of generic human weakness but of weakness "in Christ," the 
one who "was crucified in weakness" (2 Cor 13:4). Thus Paul asserts 
that it is in the sufferings which he experiences as an apostle that 
divine power is most clearly revealed, having been told by the Lord 
himself that "power is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9). This 
christological aspect of the Pauline weakness motif is disclosed espe- 
cially in the course of the apostle's arguments against his Corinthian 
opponents in 2 Corinthians 10-13. 

Since the key to Pauline theology is to be found in the apostle's 
thought regarding Jesus Christ, it is not surprising that Paul relates 
human weakness to the life of faith which bears the marks of God's 
redeeming power. His theology of weakness is christocentric because 
his view of the Christian life is essentially a response to the relationship 
he enjoys with his crucified, resurrected, and ascended Lord. Paul's 
doctrine of weakness is thus subservient to his doctrine of Christ, for 
in Paul's view weakness can truly be understood only in relation to 

""See R. Tannehill, Dying and Risini; with Christ (BZNW 32; Berlin: Topelmann, 
1967) 7-47 (for Rom) and 84-100 (for 2 Cor). 

black: paulus infirmus 87 

Jesus Christ. Although Paul, like the OT writers, relates man's weak- 
ness to his fallen nature in Adam, insisting that by his participation in 
creation, the world, and the flesh man as a whole is a weak being, he 
does not leave man, there. He further asserts that in Christ human 
weakness takes on a whole new significance by becoming the place 
where divine power is revealed. 

There are therefore two counterbalancing emphases in Paul's 
teaching: a solidarity with Adam by which all men under the influence 
of the natural sphere inherit the generic characteristic of weakness, 
and a solidarity with Christ by which human weakness under the 
influence of the Holy Spirit is transformed into a showplace of the 
divine on earth and a badge of honor. Hence from a purely theological 
point of view, the most distinctive meaning of weakness in the NT is 
detected in the christological character which the words acquire when 
Paul asserts that the power of God is operative in man's earthly 
existence (which is otherwise weak and corruptible). In the very impo- 
tence and mortality of the flesh is concealed the resurrection power of 
God, operative both in the life of the church (cf. Acts 4:7, 22; 6:8) and 
in the life of every believer (cf. Phil 4:13; Col 1:11). 

This aspect of Paul's understanding of weakness is expressed 
most profoundly in the famous statement of 2 Cor 12:9 that divine 
power finds its full scope in human weakness. This promise of the 
Lord, predicated upon his pronouncement, "My grace is sufficient for 
you," is the vantage-point from which the whole of the Pauline motif 
can be seen in its proper perspective. Paul is well content with weak- 
nesses, not because they are desirable in and of themselves, but because 
they are the vehicle through which the all-sufficient power of God 
becomes prominent. Human weakness paradoxically provides the best 
opportunity for divine power. It is this principle that makes weakness 
more meaningful to Paul than to his opponents. Whenever he feels 
himself to be weak — a fragile earthen vessel, persecuted, insulted, 
beset with afflictions of every kind — he feels Christ's strength. Behind 
all his doubts, insecurities, and anxieties is the assurance that God is 
manifesting his son in and through his life. Paul's message, as well as 
his person, was the revelation of that fact. 

Thus one cannot understand correctly the emphasis Paul gives 
the words in 2 Corinthians apart from a recognition of the close 
connection in his thought between Christ and weakness. The christo- 
logical orientation of Paul's weakness language is clearer here than in 
any other of his writings. In this letter the terms "Christ" and "weak- 
ness" are more than just somehow related: they are co-functional. In 
contrast to the false apostles who boast in their fleshly wisdom and 
strength, Paul declares that for him all boasting is excluded except in 
the "weakness" (cross) of Christ, of which Paul retains a permanent 


witness. Therefore, because the gospel is most clearly presented in 
human weakness, Paul not only preaches Christ crucified but also 
gladly bears in his body the death of Jesus as the means to manifest 
his life. This bearing of the weakness of Christ is the apostle's greatest 
mark of legitimacy.'^ 

As a consequence, in marked contrast with his opponents Paul 
asserts the positive significance of weakness and suffering inasmuch 
as such weakness reveals the power of Christ and the true meaning of 
the gospel. As Fuchs writes: 

Ce qui autorise I'apotre, c'est qu'il est appele par le Christ lui meme a 
signifier I'evangile dans son existence meme. C'est pourquoi, sans 
paradoxe, i'apotre peut revendiquer avec force sa faiblesse, parce qu'elle 
designe I'honneur qui lui est fait ,de participer ainsi a Tevangile lui- 

Thus Paul views his participation in Christ's weakness not only as a 
means of experiencing the power of Christ's resurrection, but also as 
a means of fulfilling his own ministry of preaching the gospel. In 
itself, weakness indicates that Paul is still a part of the created order 
and that he awaits ultimate redemption; but when weakness becomes 
a means by which the Lord exercises his power, it shows that God's 
might has indeed manifested itself in the world through the death and 
resurrection of Christ, thereby overcoming the inability of the law 
and the flesh (Rom 5:6; 8:3). 

Thus, it may be concluded that the most important contribution 
Paul makes to the development of the weakness motif is the relation 
he establishes between the idea of weakness and the cross of Christ. 
The gospel, for Paul, is nothing more than the weakness of Christ, 
who "was crucified in weakness but lives by the power of God" (2 Cor 
13:4). Without the cross of Christ, man would never have known true 
weakness and learned its deepest meaning. Likewise, Paul also says 
there is no power available to the Christian except that of the resurrec- 
tion. For Paul, both weakness and power are inseparably tied up in 
the death and resurrection of Christ. Therefore if we desire a formal 
designation of the Pauline idea of weakness at the height of its develop- 
ment, we can hardly do better than call it the weakness of the cross; 
for when we ask Paul what weakness is, he points us to the cross of 
Christ. Nowhere else in the NT can we find a revelation of weakness 
comparable to this in degree or scope. In the death of Christ is 

To borrow Kasemann's expression (see note 3). 
'"["That which authorizes the apostle, is that he is called by Christ himself to 
signify the Gospel in his very existence. That is why, without paradox, the apostle can 
claim with vigor his weakness, because it shows the honor that is given him to partici- 
pate thusly in the Gospel itself."] Fuchs, "La faiblesse," 253. 

black: paulus infirmus 89 

revealed "the weakness of God" (1 Cor 1:25). Consequently when 
Paul speaks of weakness he identifies it with the crucifixion of his 
Master. This is exactly the same conception that finds expression in 
the doctrines of the incarnation and humiliation of Christ (cf. Phil 
2:5-1 1). Yet, the weakness revealed in the death of Christ is in no way 
independent of the apostle's own weakness; it is "in Christ," says 
Paul, that he is weak (2 Cor 13:4). Thus the apostle does not merely 
tolerate his weaknesses; he boasts in them and bears with joy the 
crucifixion of the Lord in his own body as the surest sign of true 
apostleship. This principle finds its most fundamental and impressive 
expression in the words of 2 Cor 12:9b: "Therefore 1 will boast all the 
more gladly about my weaknesses, in order that Christ's power may 
rest upon me." 

Weakness in the Church 

In the third and final place, the terms in the group are developed 
in relationship to their ethical significance for the Christian. After all 
that has been said on "being weak in Christ," experiencing God's 
"power perfected in human weakness," etc., this significance of weak- 
ness as something which must be overcome is maintained with a great 
degree of consistency, especially in hortatory contexts. Both 1 Corin- 
thians 8 and Romans 14 refer to the weak in the church who lack the 
full knowledge of faith, expressed in ascetic and legalistic behavior. 
While Paul's sympathies very clearly lie with the weak, he admits that 
they are still immature and need to grow in knowledge and faith. Yet 
Paul is careful to point out that there is a place for weak Christians in 
the believing community. They must never be condemned by their 
stronger brethren; indeed, Paul explains in great detail that the 
stronger have a special responsibility for the weaker members of the 
church. In 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 they are to put aside their 
differences and live together with the weak in love before their com- 
mon Lord. In 1 Thess 5:14 they are to stand by their weaker brethren, 
tenderly and sympathetically consoling, encouraging, and upholding 
them. In every situation the strong are to fulfill their special duty 

Nothing in 1 Thess suggests that the weak in Thessalonica had such difficulties 
with diet or holy days as the "weak in faith" in Corinth and Rome faced, as is usually 
suggested. It seems more natural in terms of the context of the parenetic portion of the 
letter (4:1-5:22) to interpret the expression "the weak" (5:14) as referring to those 
Thessalonians who were worried about the delay of the parousia and who consequently 
were in danger of giving up hope. These believers are "weak" in that they have grown 
weary of waiting for the end and thus face the danger of being overcome by spiritual 
sleep (cf. 5:1-1 1). For detailed supports for this view see the writer's study. "The Weak 
in Thessalonica: A Study in Pauline Lexicography," JETS 25/3 (1982) 307-21. 


toward the weak in a spirit of unity and love lest they lead them 
astray, cause them to fall, and ultimately bring about their spiritual 

It is clear that this ethical aspect of weakness in Paul's writings 
grows out of the apostle's teaching regarding the reciprocal, mutually 
edifying love of believers. For Paul, the church is composed of indi- 
viduals who have been vitally united with Jesus Christ and thereby 
inextricably joined to all others confessing the same Lord. As members 
of the same spiritual family. Christians are to live together in a spirit 
of mutual dependence and unity, serving each other in love (Gal 5:13) 
and in oneness of soul and purpose (Phil 2:1-2). Therefore, Paul 
again and again speaks out against every form of spiritual individu- 
alism, particularly the more refined form which crops up in regard to 
standards of spirituality in the church. The Corinthians, for example, 
had turned Paul's preaching of freedom into the libertarian axiom, 
"all is permitted to me" ( 1 Cor 6: 12), in order to justify their individ- 
ualistic application of Christian liberty to the eating of meat offered 
to idols. Although Paul gives due recognition to Christian liberty on 
the one hand, he emphatically warns the libertarians against abusing 
their freedom in Christ by giving the weak an occasion to sin (1 Cor 
8:9). If the strong wish to assert their liberty without the restraints of 
love, they will be sinning against the spiritual Head of the church, 
Christ himself (1 Cor 8:12). Hence, Paul's teaching is not against the 
expression of Christian liberty, but he insists that the Christian must 
exercise his liberty before God on the basis of what is good for the 
entire community and not only for himself. Similarly, Paul warns the 
stronger Christians in Rome against the same abuses of liberty, for 
the freedom wrought by Christ is to be tempered by love, concern, 
and respect for the "brother for whom Christ died" (Rom 14:15). 

Another example of Paul's ethical teaching regarding weakness is 
in the same line and directs itself likewise against individualism in the 
church. It concerns the special charismata in the church, i.e., the 
"spiritual gifts" which the Holy Spirit imparts to each believer. Espe- 
cially in Corinth, there existed the danger of individualism interfering 
with the harmonious and fruitful ministry of believers within the 
community. From the context of 1 Cor 12-14 it can be inferred that 
those who claimed a "pneumatic" status in Corinth had placed an 
inordinately high premium on the more spectacular gifts."" Especially 
the gifts of tongues and of ecstatic prophecy were taken to be the 
most important pneumatica. 1 Cor 13:1 suggests that these Corin- 
thians perhaps thought they could even speak a type of "heavenly 

See B. Pearson, The Pneumatikos — Psychikos Terminology in I Corinthians 
(SBLDS 12; Missoula, MT: University of Montana, 1973) 46. 

black: paulus infirmus 91 

dialect" as evidence that they had attained to the highest degree of 
spiritual awareness. They had forgotten, or perhaps not known, that 
only those gifts that exalted Christ as Lord were suitable for Christian 
worship.^' Although Paul was willing to acknowledge the validity of 
the more spectacular gifts of the Spirit, he insisted that love was basic 
to all other gifts (1 Corinthians 13). He taught further that there are 
many gifts of the Spirit and that all are necessary, be they didactic, 
therapeutic, miraculous, or ecstatic. But Paul also emphasized that no 
gift in and of itself has any value, no matter how spectacular it may 
appear, for the essential question is whether or not the gift edifies the 
church as it is exercised in love. For example, the apostle defends the 
use of tongues; it was a gift of the Spirit and one which Paul himself 
possessed and practiced. But because it did little to edify the church 
(1 Cor 14:2-5) Paul could say that he preferred to speak five words 
with his mind than thousands in a tongue (1 Cor 14:9). Thus it is not 
a surprise, in light of the exaltation in Corinth of certain charismatic 
powers, that the gifts which the Corinthians praised the most are 
relegated by Paul to the foot of the lists given in 1 Corinthians (12:8- 
10, 28-30). In the service of Jesus Christ there is no place for individ- 
ualism, no matter how great or impressive one's abilities may be. 

Conversely, Paul must also emphasize that those members of the 
church who appear to be weaker (1 Cor 12:22) are just as indispensable 
as the other members for the proper functioning of the body of 
Christ. Despite their apparent secondary nature and less glamorous 
appearance, their presence and functioning are vital in sustaining life. 
To follow Paul's analogy of the human body, we may think of these 
weaker members as the sensitive internal organs such as the lungs or 
the liver which are so susceptible to injury and whose only protection 
is that which the surrounding members afford. These organs, hidden 
from view and often taken for granted must, however, be present and 
operative or there is no functional body. All other members, including 
those possessing greater external beauty and recognition, are depen- 
dent upon their existence. 

For this reason the apostle is emphatic that all believers, even the 
"weaker" members, are important, for they are included in the body 
as a necessary part of the church's development and ministry (1 Cor 
12:22). Hence those who have not yet reached a full knowledge of the 
faith and are still "weak" have their place in the church as a commu- 
nity of growing saints. The many individual members of the commu- 
nity, including those who are less mature, are actually demonstrating 
rather than negating the purposes of Christ within his church. And in 

^'E. Schweizer, "The Service of Worship: An Exposition of I Corinthians 14," 
Neoteslamentica (Zurich: Zwingli, 1963) 337. 


the final analysis, by virtue of the Christian's redemptive fellowship 
with Christ weakness is never merely human weakness but an oppor- 
tunity to manifest God's power. "God chose the weak things of the 
world to shame the strong" (I Cor 1:27), and that explains why Paul 
constantly refers the Christian acceptance of weak individuals back to 
their relationship with God. Because weaker members are chosen by 
God, stronger members have no basis to reject them. 

This leads us to one final feature that is characteristic of the 
Pauline concept of weakness: its markedly theocentric character. God 
depends neither upon man's strength nor his achievements, not even 
in the church. Instead he seeks out the weak, ungodly, and hostile to 
redeem them and to fit them as vessels of his strength (Rom 5:6-8). 
Weakness is — as the Lord had expressed it to Paul — the place where 
God's power is perfected. The Christian has nothing to give of himself; 
the strength he exhibits is the strength God had infused into him. 
Thus between Christ and the Christian theje is such an intimate 
identification in weakness that both are said to live "by tl^e power of 
God" (2 Cor 13:4). 


Paul's view of weakness, regardless of how highly developed it 
may be, is not to be understood only as an abstract doctrine, for it 
was developed in view of actual conditions. In the first place, weakness 
impresses upon us the reality of our finiteness and dependence upon 
God. Human attempts are completely useless to please God; with all 
of man's effort, he can do nothing. It is just this attitude that Paul 
declares when he says he is weak. He can claim no credit for any of 
his successes for he knows he has been sustained by God. If he has 
achieved anything, it is only by God's power working through a 
weak, yet yielded vessel. Thus human initiative, human boasting, and 
human merit have no place in the thought of the apostle Paul. 

Likewise, Paul teaches that God's way of exhibiting power is 
altogether different from man's way. Man tries to overcome his weak- 
ness; God is satisfied to use weakness for his own special purposes. 
Too many Christians become disheartened over their infirmities, think- 
ing that only if they were stronger in themselves they could accomplish 
more for God. But this point of view, despite its popularity, is alto- 
gether a fallacy. God's means of working, rightly understood, is not 
by making us stronger, but by making us weaker and weaker until the 
divine power alone is clearly manifested. 

Finally, for Paul weakness is the greatest sign of discipleship 
because it openly identifies the Christian with his crucified Master. By 
his death Christ proved that God's weakness was stronger than man's 

black: paulus infirmus 93 

strength. This same Christ has now become the example which Chris- 
tians are to follow. By bearing the cross of Christ and dying daily 
with him, they participate in the weakness of Christ. This identifica- 
tion with their Lord enables them to glory in their weaknesses, not 
merely endure them. 

Therefore, rather than wrestle with God for freedom from their 
weaknesses and limitations, the faithful see in these the power of 
another, who promised, "My grace is sufficient for you, for strength 
is perfected in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9), and of whom it was written, 
"He is not weak toward you but is powerful in you. For indeed he 
was crucified because of weakness, yet he lives because of the power 
of God" (2 Cor 13:4). 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 95-126 

A STUDY OF 2 SAMUEL 1:17-27 

David L. Zapf 

2 Sam 1:17-27 introduces and records David's lament over the 
deaths of Saul and Jonathan. Examination of the textual tradition 
upholds the integrity of the MT as represented in BHS. Significant 
lexical problems are considered and suggestions made toward their 
solution. Consideration of the structure of the lament proper (vv 19- 
27) reveals David's skill as a poet, while analysis of the content shows 
David's grief over the deaths of two men with whom he had very 
different relationships — Saul as a warrior of Israel, yet David's perse- 
cutor, and Jonathan as an intimate friend. On a broader level in the 
Samuel narrative, the lament is a fitting tribute to the tragic hero 
Saul while also contributing to the story of David's accession to the 
throne of Israel. 


David's lament over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan in 2 Sam 
1:17-27 is a superb example of Hebrew poetry. William L. 
Holladay notes that "Critics have affirmed with one voice the literary 
quality of this poem."' Keil and Delitzsch say, "It is one of the finest 
odes of the Old Testament; full of lofty sentiment, and springing from 
deep and sanctified emotion."^ Stanley Gevirtz praises it as "a genu- 
ine expression of deep sorrow and a masterpiece of early Hebrew 
poetry."^ Peter R. Ackroyd wrote, "The poem is a superb work of 
art, its structure skilfully developed."'* Hans Wilhelm Hertzberg states 

'William L. Holladay, "Form and Word-Play in David's Lament over Saul and 
Jonathan," ^720(1970) 154. 

C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Books of Samuel, trans. 
James Martin (vol. 2 in Commentary on the Old Testament; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1975 [reprint]) 288. 

'Stanley Gevirtz, Patterns in the Early Poetry of Israel, 2d ed. (Chicago: University 
of Chicago, 1973)73. 

■"Peter R. Ackroyd, The Second Book of Samuel (The Cambridge Bible Com- 
mentary; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1977) 24. 


that this lament "has been called the most beautiful heroic lament of 
all time."' 

The beauty of this piece of literature, however, does not readily 
yield itself to the modern reader. Several difficulties confront the 
interpreter. First, one encounters several textual problems. As a result, 
whole articles have been devoted to "reconstructing" a readable text 
for 2 Sam 1:17-27.^ There are also several lexical possibilities for 
certain words, forcing the interpreter to make a decision. Further, the 
structure of this poem is highly complex, employing a wide variety of 
literary devices known in Hebrew poetry. These factors combine to 
make exegesis of this passage hazardous, but, if skillfully accom- 
plished, rewarding. 

Certain matters must be attended to, however, before attention is 
turned to the text itself. These include the date, authorship and his- 
torical background of the lament. 

Date and Authorship 

Although there is considerable discussion concerning the state of 
the received text, there is a general consensus of opinion that this 
lament is truly Davidic in origin. Hertzberg says, "There is no reason 
for doubting David's authorship."^ Holladay remarks, "critics have 
never doubted its authenticity to David. "^ The fact that, as Gevirtz 
notes, "The lament was a recognized literary genre in David's day, 
having had a venerable tradition in the ancient Near East,"'° lends 
credibility to Davidic authorship. 

Smith argues that it is unlikely that someone else may have 
written this lament. He says. 

There seems to be no reason to doubt the genuineness of the 
poem. One negative reason in its favour seems to be of overwhelming 

'Hans Wilhelm Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 2d ed. (The Old Testament Library; 
Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960) 238. 

^Gevirtz (Patterns, 72-96) and Holladay ("Form and Word-Play," 153-89) are 
extreme examples. 

'M. O'Connor (Hebrew Verse Structure [Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1980]) 
chose 2 Sam 1:19-27 as a key text for demonstrating his analysis of the structure of 
Hebrew poetry. D. N. Freedman ("The Refrain in David's Lament over Saul and 
Jonathan," Ex Orhe Religionum: Studia Geo Widengren, Studies in the History of 
Religions/ Supplements to Numen 21 [Leiden: Brill, 1972] 115-26) has a detailed dis- 
cussion on the metrical structure of these verses. Gevirtz (Patterns) and Holladay 
("Form and Word-Play") use structural analysis as the basis for their reconstructions 
of the text. 

'^Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 238. 

'Holladay, "Form and Word-Play," 154. 

'"Gevirtz, Patterns, 11 (see his documentation in n. 4). 

zapf: David's lament 97 

force: it has no religious allusion whatever. The strong current of tradi- 
tion which early made David a religious hero, renders it improbable 
that any one should compose for David a poem which contains no 
allusions to Yahweh, to his relation to Israel, or to his care for Israel's 
king. A similar argument is the absence of any allusion to the strained 
relations which had existed between Saul and David. That David should 
show true magnanimity in the case is not surprising. But it would 
hardly be human nature for an imitator not to make at least a veiled 
allusion to David's experience at the court of Saul and during his 
forced exile. With these negative indications we must put the absence 
of any positive marks of a late date. There seems to be absolutely 
nothing in the poem which is inconsistent with its alleged authorship." 

Of course, there are several positive indications of Davidic 
authorship as well. First, it must be remembered that David was not 
only a skilled musician, but also a genius in giving poetic expression 
to his thoughts.'^ It is for this reason that he is known as the "sweet 
singer of Israel." The text in 2 Sam 1:17 clearly attributes the lament 
to David: nXTH niVHTiX IM pp'l'V'Then David lamented this 
lament." David's respect for Saul as "the Lord's anointed" is clearly 
seen in these verses (esp. vv 22-24), and this is consistent with the 
tradition found in 1 and 2 Samuel (see 1 Sam 24:5-6, 10; 26:9-11, 16, 
23; 2 Sam 1:14-16). Never, however, does the lament hint of a friend- 
ship between David and Saul. However, in its treatment of Jonathan, 
the lament speaks of a deep emotional attachment (esp. v 25). This is 
also consistent with the tradition of 1 and 2 Samuel (see 1 Sam 18:1- 
4; 20:2-17 [note also the charged emotional atmosphere of this whole 
chapter]; cf. David's treatment of Jonathan's son after Jonathan had 
been killed: 2 Sam 9:1-13; 21:7). Thus, the lament accurately and 
precisely reflects the relationships David sustained with both Saul 
and Jonathan. 

When it is thus seen that the lament is Davidic, the date easily 
follows. The text gives a specific indication of the amount of time 
that lapsed between the death of Saul and the reporting of his death 
to David — three days (2 Sam 1:1-2). The text does not indicate any 
amount of time transpiring between David putting to death the 
Amalekite messenger and his composing this lament. There is no 
reason to suggest that David would have needed more than a few 
hours to compose it (given his poetic genius), so it is likely that it was 

Henry Preserved Smith, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Books of 
Samuel, 2d ed. (ICC; Edinburg: Clark, 1912) 258. However, note that Smith distrusts 
the received text and offers several emendations. 

'^Cf. the remarks by Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 238. 
All quotations from the Hebrew OT in this article are from A. Alt et al., eds., 
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1977). 


written within hours after David heard of the deaths of Saul and 
Jonathan. This would establish the time of composition as about 

1010 B.C. 

Historical Background 

David's lament comes in a strategic position in the Samuel narra- 
tive. It is in the transitional period between the reign of Saul as king 
over Israel and the establishment of the Davidic dynasty. However, 
the relationships between David and Saul and Jonathan go back far 

There is a conflict between David and Saul concerning the right 
to rule over Israel. Saul is first anointed by Samuel as king over Israel 
(1 Samuel 10). However, as a result of Saul's continued disobedience, 
Yahweh rejected him as king over Israel (1 Samuel 15) and Samuel 
anointed David as the next king (1 Samuel 16). However, this did not 
mean that Saul was immediately removed from office. David had to 
await Saul's death before his accession to the throne. 

Open conflict between David and Saul began after David defeated 
Goliath (1 Samuel 17). As victorious Israel was returning home, the 
women of Israel came out to meet them, singing, "Saul has slain his 
thousands, and David his ten thousands" (1 Sam 18:7). As a result, 
Saul became very jealous of David and sought to kill him the next 
day. In contrast to David's relationship with Saul was the develop- 
ment of a friendship between David and Jonathan. 1 Sam 18:3 says, 
"Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as 
himself." As the narrative continues, Saul's actions became increas- 
ingly psychotic. Occasionally, he tried to kill David in fits of rage but 
at other times he meekly sought reconciliation with him. However, 
the situation became progressively worse until David was forced to 
flee from Saul. However, before he fled, his friendship with Jonathan 
was confirmed: a pact was made between them that when David's 
enemies had been overthrown, David would not kill Jonathan's de- 
scendents (who would be rivals to the throne) (1 Sam 20:14-17). 
Jonathan thus recognized that David was destined to rule over Israel, 
something Saul knew as well, but tried to prevent (see, e.g., 1 Sam 

David fled into the Hill Country of Judah. There he began to 
gather a band of fugitives, malcontents, and n'er do wells (1 Sam 
22:1-2). With this band, David began to raid the Philistines. Saul, 
however, kept hunting for David. Because of this, David eventually 
decided to try to find protection in a Philistine city, Gath, but while 
there, he secretly continued his raids on other Philistine towns. In 
time Achish, king of Gath, asked David to join the Philistines in a 
battle against Israel, and it appears that David was ready to do as he 

zapf: David's lament 99 

was asked, but the other Philistine commanders objected to his 
presence among them, so he was sent away (1 Samuel 29).''* This 
Philistine coalition then joined battle with Israel on Mount Gilboa.'^ 
There Saul and Jonathan were killed (1 Samuel 31). 

News of their death reached David via an Amalekite messenger. 
The Amalekite claimed that he dealt the death blow to Saul, hoping 
to be rewarded for this act (cf. 2 Sam 4:10). David reacted by killing 
the man because he had lifted his hand to destroy the Lord's anointed 
(2 Sam 1:14). Soon afterward, David expressed his grief over the 
deaths of Saul and Jonathan in the lament found in 2 Sam 1:17-27. 

Following the lament, the writer of 2 Samuel narrates the account 
of David's confirmation as king over Israel. David was immediately 
anointed king over Judah at Hebron (2 Sam 2:4). However, Ish- 
Bosheth, a son of Saul, succeeded his father's throne, and war broke 
out between the two houses. The tide of the battle was turned in favor 
of David when Abner, commander of Israel's army, had a falling out 
with Ish-Bosheth, and went over to the side of David. A bloodbath 
followed resulting in the murder of both Abner and Ish-Bosheth. 
During the next seven and one half years, David consolidated his 
position, resulting in his being anointed king over all Israel at Hebron 
(2 Sam 5:1-3). 

Gevirtz has made some helpful suggestions about the relationship 
of all this historical background to the lament in 2 Sam 1:17-27: 

Moreover, it may perhaps be hazarded, for the deaths that he here 
bewails David may have felt at least in part responsible. It was in the 
service of Saul that David had risen to prominence as a military leader, 
gained the love of Saul's daughter, Michal, and her hand in marriage, 
becoming son-in-law to the king, and won the selfless friendship of 
Jonathan, the heir apparent, who risked the violence of his father's 
anger — and therein his very life — defending David. Then, hunted as an 
outlaw leader of an outlaw band, David sought and gained service with 
Achish, the Philistine king of Gath. Sometime after, in concert with the 
other four Philistine rulers, Achish joined battle with the Israelite forces 
in the fateful encounter at Gilboa in which Saul and Jonathan lost 

'"■it is interesting to note that while the battle which was to result in Saul's death 
was being set in array, David engaged in combat and defeated a band of Amalekites 
who had raided his base at Ziklag. Thus, the same people who had figured so promi- 
nently in Saul's downfall (1 Samuel 15) also played an important part in David's rise to 
power (1 Samuel 30; note esp. v 26 which records David's action of sending some of 
the plunder from this victory to the elders of Judah — part of his strategy to woo their 

'^Christian E. Hauer, Jr. ("The Shape of the Saulide Strategy," CBQ 31 [1969] 
153-67, esp. 163-67) argues that this battle was a result of initiative taken by Saul as 
the third stage of a strategic pattern to secure the boundaries of the emerging Israelite 


their lives. Though he was excused from participating in this engage- 
ment, one may wonder, on the basis of his avowed wilHngness to fight 
on the PhiHstine side against Israel and his failure to come to the sorely 
needed help of those to whom he owed so much, whether David is not 
"overcompensating" in his lament for a guilty conscience.'^ 

This is an interesting possibility, but it is extremely difficult for the 
modern reader to fathom the psychological motivations that prompted 
an ancient author. Nevertheless, it is evident that the lament is the 
result of David's deeply emotional reaction to the news that Saul and 
Jonathan had been slain on the battlefield. 

With this background, it is now time to turn to the lament proper. 
Here, problems must be faced and, as far as possible, resolved, if the 
lament is to retain its full force. The first problem that requires dis- 
cussion is the textual problem. 


The MT text of 2 Sam 1:17-27'^ has many difficult readings. 
William L. Holladay notes, "because of its textual difficulties (for 
which the ancient Versions are of little help), critical studies of the 
poem which appeared in the period 1870-1930 tended to concentrate 
upon the attempt to restore a satisfactory text."'^ Among commen- 
tators one finds such statements as, "We can do nothing with the text 
as it stands."'^ This has led to suggestions for extensive emendations 
of the text.^° 

'^Gevirtz, Patterns, 73. 

'^A comparison of Codex Leningrad B 19'^ {Pentateuch, Prophets and Hagiog- 
rapha Codex Leningrad B 19^, vol. 2 [Jerusalem: Makor, n.d.] 96) and the Aleppo 
Codex (Moshe H. Goshen-Gottstein, ed.. The Aleppo Codex Provided with massoretic 
notes and pointed by Aaron Ben Asher [Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1976] 110-12) 
yielded no differences in reading and the same text is recorded in BHS. For the 
purposes of this article, therefore, the text of BHS will be assumed to be the same as 
the MT. 

'^Holladay, "Form and Word-Play," 155. Holladay continues, "some of the emen- 
dations suggested during this period of critical study are of permanent value." Holladay 
assumes the corruption of the MT and follows at most points the reconstruction of the 
text offered by Gevirtz (Patterns in the Early Poetry of Israel {C\\\ca.go: University of 
Chicago, 1963] 72-96) but adds a few "improvements." 

Smith, The Books of Samuel, 259. While this is an extreme example, most 
commentators suggest at least some emendation to the text. 

^^Gevirtz's whole section on 2 Sam 1:17-27 (Patterns. 72-96) is largely devoted to 
"reconstructing" a comprehensible text. Holladay ("Form and Word-Play," 153-89) 
"improves" Gevirtz's work based on "word-play" (which he defines as "any likeness of 
sound between two words or phrases, whether it is deliberate punning of names, or 
assonance of any sort" [p. 157]). This feature, he says, is exhibited in the early laments 
of Israel (ibid., 156). 


It is necessary to lay down some guidelines to control the amount 
of emendation to the MT that will be allowed. I suggest the following 
guideUnes. 1) Acceptance of an emendation must be viewed as the 
exception, not the rule, in handling the text. 2) An emendation must 
not be proposed solely on the basis of the difficulty of the MT reading. 
Rather than emend a difficult reading, it is better to leave it uninter- 
preted in the hope that further research in Semitic languages might 
bring to light new knowledge that would render the difficulty intelli- 
gible or that new manuscript evidence would be found which would 
suggest a different reading. Conjecture must never be supposed to 
take the place of evidence. Therefore, 3) emendations to the MT may 
be proposed if there is sufficient ancient manuscript evidence for a 
change. 4) Emendations may be considered if it can be shown how a 
scribe would have made an error that resulted in the MT reading. 
And 5) "emendations" will be considered if it can be demonstrated 
that a certain scribal practice resulted in an abnormal reading. This 
last point is relevant to the discussion on v 26 below. What is sug- 
gested there is not really an emendation, but an alternate way to 
understand the MT text. With these guidelines in hand, proposed 
emendations of 2 Sam 1:17-27 will be considered. 

Verse 18 

:"i\i''Ll "i?P''?¥ n3inD nan tw\i niin^-"'?.? iipV7 inx'i 

A variety of emendations have been suggested for v 18. The only 
significant variation among the versions used in this study^' was that 
the LXX omitted the Hebrew term nu'p. However, this does not affect 
the proposed emendations, none of which are based on manuscript 

Part of the difficulty one must face is whether v 18 is to be 
included in the lament proper. Most of the emendations proposed are 
suggested on the assumption that v 18 is part of the lament. However, 
structural analysis of the lament reveals that v 18 falls outside the 
boundaries of the lament. 

Gevirtz offers the most extensive emendation of the text, incor- 
porating most of the suggestions made by others. ^^ The following 
shows the BHS text next to the emended version offered by Gevirtz: 

The following versions were used: Alfred Rahlfs, ed., Septuaginla (Stuttgart: 
Deutsche Bibelstiftung, 1935); Alexander Sperber, ed., The Bible in Aramaic, vol. 2, 
The Former Prophets according to Targum Jonathan (Leiden: Brill, 1959); and 
Bonifatio Fischer et ai, eds., Bihlia Sacra luxta Vulgatam Versionem (Stuttgart: 
Wiirttembergische Bibelanstalt, 1969). 

For less extensive emendations see Smith, The Books of Samuel, 259-60 and 
S. R. Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books of Samuel 
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1913) 233-34. 


BHS Gevirtz 

iiyn nDD-Vv naiHD nan "rx-m;"' nsjo ttj niyp 

The meaning of Gevirtz's emended text is, "(With) a bitter waiUng, 
weep O Judah! (With) a grievous lament, mourn O Israel!" compared 
to the BHS reading which he translates, "To teach the sons of Judah 
(a/ the) bow; Behold, it is inscribed in the book of the upright. "^^ As 
can be seen, this is a very extensive revision. While some of these 
changes may be seen as plausible, at least four of them seem unlikely 
based on the evidence. First, it is difficult to see how the "> which 
Gevirtz adds at the beginning would have dropped out completely. 
Second, there is evidence that the ancient scribes practiced word divi- 
sion.^'' Therefore, it is unlikely that the "? and in ITaVb should be 
separated. Third, Gevirtz offers no explanation of how T\1T\ became 
"TlJ, and it is difficult to see how this would have happened. Finally, 
Gevirtz must resort to the desperate explanation that Vi7 n3inD "must 
be regarded as an explanatory addition inserted, once the corruption 
of the text had gotten under way, in a last desperate attempt to give 
some order to what by that time had developed into hopeless chaos. "^^ 
One final word that may be added is that it is difficult to see how so 
many errors crept into the text in so short a space. When all these 
factors are added together, it seems unlikely that Gevirtz has recon- 
structed the "original" text. 

Verse 21 

The phrase n?3Tin ''IW has been widely discussed since Ginsberg 
proposed in 1938 that it be emended to n73inn yiU?T.^^ Ginsberg 

Gevirtz, Patterns, 76 (but see my translation below, p. ! 16). Gevirtz says of ntTp, 
"It is . . . likely that nipp is to be read, not with the vocalization of the Massoretic text 
as nU'i? (pausal form of ntt'j?), 'bow,' but as nU'i?, construct form of the adjective nu^j?, 
'hard,' 'severe'" (ibid.)- 

' See the argument presented by A. R. Millard, "'Scriptio Continua' in Early 
Hebrew: Ancient Practice or Modern Surmise," JSS 15 (1970) 2-15. In this article 
Millard argues against solving "textual problems in the Old Testament ... by re- 
dividing the traditional sequence of letters on the grounds that the words would not 
have been separated in ancient times" (p. 2). He offers an impressive array of evidence 
from various sources to establish the fact that "word-division was normal amongst the 
majority of West-Semitic scribes" (p. 12) and that "The absence of division from various 
texts . . . should be the exceptions that prove the rule" (p. 13). 

^^Gevirtz, Patterns, 76. 

^'H. L. Ginsberg, "A Ugaritic Parallel to 2 Sam 1:21," JBL 58 (1938) 209-13. 


found a basis for this emendation in the tablet of the Ugaritic epic 
Dn^il. Since the time he made this proposal, it has been widely 
accepted. ^^ Smith, however, would emend the text to read mon T\MiV, 
"fields of death, "^^ and in this he is followed by Mauchline.^^ How- 
ever, it is not necessary to emend the text for it to make sense here. 
Instead, the problem may be solved lexically (see below, p. 108). 
Thus, following the guidelines laid down above, the suggested emen- 
dations of this verse are rejected. 

Verse 24 

A slight problem is found in v 24. This involves the interchange 
of a masculine and feminine suffix, when the feminine suffix is 
expected in both cases (D3tt^D'70n/JDin2V). It is probable that this 
error crept into the text early. In the early orthography of Hebrew, 
the and 3 were very similar in appearance. 

Verse 26 

: wm ngriKO 'V ^nDnx nnx'rE?? 

In another verse difficult to understand, the word nnx"??? has 
come under scrutiny as a candidate for emendation. As the verb 
stands, it is an anomalous niphal perfect, 3rd feminine singular (the 
ordinary form being nx^D3).^' Holladay remarks that nxVpj (feminine 
plural participle) is the expected form, but retains the MT pronuncia- 
tion as an archaic form.^^ Cross and Freedman, however, have sug- 
gested an emendation that better fits the evidence and sense of the 

"See, e.g., Gevirtz, Patterns, 85-87; Holladay, "Form and Word-Play." 170-71 
(although he suggests the plural ''VW for Ginsberg's singular vnty); Robert Cordis, The 
Word and the Book (New York: KTAV, 1976) 35-36; T. L. Fenton, "Ugaritica— 
Biblica," in JJgarit- Forschungen, Band 1 (Butzon & Bercker Kevelaer, 1969) 67-68; 
and T. L. Fenton, "Comparative Evidence in Textual Study: M. Dahood on 2 Samuel 
i21 andCTA 19(1 Aqht), 1,44-45," ^729(1979) 162-70. 

^*Smith, The Books of Samuel, Itl. 

"John Mauchline, 1 and 2 Samuel {New Century Bible; Greenwood: Attic, 1971) 

See the chart in E. Kautzsch and A. E. Cowley, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, 2d 
ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1910 [reprint, 1980] xvii, which gives examples of how Hebrew 
letters were formed in various periods. 

^'Cf. Francis Brown, S. R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs, A Hebrew and English 
Lexicon of the Old Testament (Oxford: Clarendon, 1953 [reprint]) 810. See Ps 118:23 

"Holladay, "Form and Word-Play," 183. 


verse. They suggest that "This anomalous formation is probably the 
result of the loss of an aleph by haplography."" This suggestion is 
based on a known scribal practice of a consonant (or in some cases 
consonants) being written once when strict grammatical construction 
demands that it be written twice. ^'^ Thus, written fully the phrase 
would read, nnx x'7p]/"You are wonderful." If this emendation is 
accepted, a nice couplet is formed with the next phrase, ""V ^nsnx/ 
"your love was mine." 

While the text of 2 Sam 1:17-27 has some hard readings, on the 
whole the manuscript evidence supports the MT reading. Because of 
this, and on the basis of the above discussion, I reject most of the 
proposed emendations." My reasons for doing this will become 
clearer in the following discussions. However, the emendation (which 
technically might not be considered an emendation) in v 26 is ac- 
cepted, as is the emendation in v 24. 


Once a working text has been established for 2 Sam 1:17-27, 
there still remains some difficult lexical problems to be solved. Some- 
times none of the meanings of a word seems to fit the context, while 
at other times more than one meaning makes good sense. Perhaps 
this is partly due to the poetic nature of the passage. Poetry in any 
language often stretches the ability of a language to communicate 

Frank Moore Cross and David Noel Freedman, Studies in Yahwistic Poetry 
(Missoula: Scholars Press, 1975) 26. This suggestion is followed by O'Connor, Hebrew 
Verse Structure, 233. Earlier Freedman ("The Refrain in David's Lament," 123) had 
stated more forcefully, "The omission . . . may have been the result of accidental hap- 
lography. More likely the omission was deliberate." 

'"See the discussion by \. O. Lehman, "A Forgotten Principle of Biblical Textual 
Tradition Rediscovered," JNES 26 (1967) 93-101. Lehman cites numerous examples 
from extra-massoretic texts, Aramaic and Samaritan traditions, the Peshitta, Biblical 
Greek, and Biblical Hebrew to show that the principle of "textual ambivalence of 
Hebrew consonants" (i.e., "the same consonants may be connected both with the word 
preceding and that following it" [p. 93]) existed in the ancient Near East. Mitchell 
Dahood {Psalms, vol.2 [AB; Garden City: Doubleday, 1968] 81) agrees with this 
principle and cites additional references. He also cites some bibliographic references to 
show that the idea is not new with Lehman. A somewhat contrary position is taken by 
Millard, "'Scriptio Continua,'" 2-15 (see above, n. 24). However, Millard's contention 
that it was the normal scribal practice to divide words does not necessarily militate 
against the position espoused by Lehman. Indeed, Millard recognizes cases where 
words were not normally separated (see p. 15), and the situation described by Lehman 
may be such a case. 

"Many emendations that have been suggested have not been mentioned in this 
discussion. Those not mentioned are either insignificant or have almost no basis for 

zapf: David's lament 105 

ideas to its limit. Furthermore, poetry (and Hebrew poetry is no 
exception) often uses archaic words, which adds to the lexical diffi- 
culty. Several key words need to be considered in David's lament. 

The confusion regarding this word is reflected in the versions. As 
vocalized in the MT, it is a noun which means either "beauty, honor" 
(based on nsx II) or "gazelle" (based on riDX III).^^ However, the 
Aramaic Targum Jonathan has pmnynx, an ithpael of ini7, which in 
this stem means "to be ready."" Holladay reasons from these facts as 

This ithpael of '^td serves as a passive (or intransitive) of the pael; the 
pael of this verb regularly translates mh hiphil. That is, the Targum 
strongly suggests our reading a Hebrew niphal in the present instance. 
The verb mb fits nicely into our context. ^^ 

This would require repointing the MT 'Dli^ri as ''S^n, a feminine 
imperative meaning "take one's stand. "^ The vocative, Israel, would 
then be seen as a personified woman. 

The LXX, however, offers a different possibility. It translates 
■•DSn by Stti^woov, an aorist imperative meaning, "set up as a oxTiX,r| 
or monument."'*'^ This is a translation of the hiphil of 3X3, which 
would be pointed 'DSn, meaning, "set up, erect (a pillar).""" 

The Vulgate, however, reflects the Hebrew pointing of the MT 
text. The Vulgate has the word incliti from inclutus, meaning "glori- 
ous, famous, illustrious, renowned, celebrated""^ (indicating HDX II 
was understood). 

The differences among the versions at least verify the consonantal 
text of the MT. The next question that may be asked is whether a 

^*BDB, 839-40. Cf. William L. Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon 
of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971 [reprint, 1980]) 302; Reuben 
Alcalay, The Complete Hebrew-English Dictionary (Hartford: Prayer Book, 1965) 
2147; and Avraham Even-Shoshan, tt'inn |l'i'?pn, vol. 5 (Jerusalem: Kiryath Sefer, 1979 
[Hebrew]) 1295 (2 Sam 1:19 is cited as an example meaning TXS "glory," 'D' "beauty," 
TTH "splendor"). 

Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmudi Babli and Yeru- 
shalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (New York: Judaica, 1975) 1 128. 

'^Holladay, "Form and Word-Play," 165. 

"BDB, 662. 
Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, revised by 
Henry Stuart Jones and Roderick McKenzie (Oxford: Clarendon, 1940 [reprint, 1977]) 

"BDB, 662. 

""^Edwin B. Levine, Goodwin B. Beach, and Vittore E. Bocchetta, eds., Latin Dic- 
tionary (Chicago and New York: Follett, 1967) 173. 


verb form (with the Aramaic Targum Jonathan and the LXX) or a 
noun form (with the MT and the Vulgate) is to be expected. The 
parallelism exhibited between v 19a and v 25b'*^ suggests that a noun 
form is expected. However, structural analysis of the lament reveals 
that there is no structural connection between these two lines (see 
below, pp. 111-15). Nevertheless, the semantic parallelism strikes the 
reader with such clarity that on the reading of v 25b he is naturally 
reminded of v 19a. O'Connor has called this a "fake coda," that is, a 
fake ending to the lament."" The true ending (v 27) does have a struc- 
tural relationship with v 19 where n?3n'7?3 '''?D stands in a chiastically 
arranged parallelism with VkiU'"' ""D^fH. Both the fake ending and the 
true ending use nouns which correspond in the respective parallelisms 
to ''2'STi. Therefore, it can safely be asserted that 'axn should be taken 
as a noun form and not a verb form. 

However, this still does not solve the lexical problem of deciding 
whether ""DXri means "beauty, honor" or "gazelle." Commentators are 
divided over which of these meanings to accept. In the Theological 
Wordbook of the Old Testament, 2 Sam 1:19 is cited as an example 
of the meaning of "glory" for HDX II, and it is said that the expression 
refers to King Saul."^ Mauchline says, "The term should ... be ren- 
dered as 'glory' with reference to Saul and Jonathan or to the 'glory,' 
the national prestige and dignity of Israel as a whole. ""^ Others, 
however, take the meaning "gazelle." Freedman says, "the use of 
animal terms to represent human figures is common both in biblical 
and Ugaritic literature.""^ Because of the parallelism between vv 19 
and 25, Freedman applies the term to Jonathan."^ 

If the term means "gazelle," it provides interesting imagery for 
the verse. 2 Sam 2:18 and 1 Chr 12:9 indicate that the term can be 
used in reference to warriors. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the 
Bible says, "Gazelles had to be hunted . . . but they were not easy to 

"^v 19a: VVn -fmoD-Vj; VKity 'axn 
V 25b: VVn ymaa-Vy ]T\:^r\\ 

''''O'Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure, 47 L 

'"R. Laird Harris; Gleason L. Archer, Jr.; and Bruce K. Waltke, eds.. Theological 
Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. 2 (Chicago: Moody, 1980) 1869-70. 

''^Mauchline, / and 2 Samuel, 199. See also Keil and Delitzsch, Second Samuel, 

''^Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 1 19-20. On the term zby, "gazelle," 
in Ugaritic see Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Insti- 
tute, 1965) 407, entry 1045. 

''^Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament." 120. In this identification he is 
followed by William H. Shea, "David's Lament," BASOR 221 (1976) 141, and 
O'Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure, 231. O'Connor notes that F. M. Cross and D. K.. 
Stuart identified the Gazelle as Saul. 

zapf: David's lament 107 

bag, for their speed of movement was proverbial."'*^ Thus, the term 
would be a fitting term for a military leader. 

However, it is not necessary to determine either one meaning or 
the other for the term 'Dlfn. Indeed, Freedman remarks, "The terms 
may well have a common etymology, since the gazelle is characterized 
by its beauty and grace, as well as its speed. "^^ 

Paralleling the ambiguity of meaning is the ambiguity of refer- 
ence. The semantic parallelism between vv 19a and 25b suggests that 
the term should be applied to Jonathan, but the structural parallelism 
between vv 19a and 27b suggests that the reference is to both Saul 
and Jonathan. The meaning "gazelle" would be a fitting epithet for 
Jonathan, who was a noted military leader (see 1 Sam 14:1-13; 24- 
45). The meaning "beauty, honor" can be understood as a collective, 
figurative reference to both Saul and Jonathan (i.e., Saul and Jona- 
than, as the leaders of the nation, are the- beauty of Israel). Thus, 
it seems that David used the ambiguous term and the somewhat 
ambiguous structure not to confuse, but to give fuller meaning to 
his words. Saul is not slighted, but Jonathan is given a certain 

Traditionally this term has been understood to mean, "in your 
high places."" When it has this meaning, Gevirtz insists that it has a 
technical sense of a place of worship," which is out of place in this 
context. He also objects to the traditional translation because "Gilboa, 
the scene of the heroes' deaths, was [not] . . . Israel's."^'* Therefore, 
Gevirtz suggests the translation "thy slain bodies." He finds support 
for this translation in Ugaritic studies which have shown that the 
term nD3 in biblical Hebrew may mean "back" and came to denote 
"body," and the fact that a pronominal suffix may intervene in a 
construct chain and refer to the whole chain." However, such con- 
voluted reasoning is not necessary. HOD does not need to have the 
technical sense Gevirtz suggests. ^^ Furthermore, Israel may have 

George Arthur Butrick, ed.. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 1 
(New York: Abingdon, 1962) 358. 

'"Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 1 19. 

"Cf. the remarks of O'Connor recorded below, p. 115. 

"Cf. BDB, 119. 

"Gevirtz, Patterns, 77. 

"Ibid., 78. 

"ibid., 77-81, esp. 81. On the last point, cf. Kautzsch and Cowley, Hebrew 
Grammar, 415, §\2M. 

^"CL BDB, 119, s.v. n03, 1 and 2. 


claimed Gilboa as their territory even though they did not have un- 
disputed control of the area. Therefore, it is best to retain the tradi- 
tional understanding of the term. 


BDB and Holladay list similar meanings for this term. According 
to BDB it means, "contribution, offering, for sacred uses."^^ Holladay 
says it means, "tribute, contribution (at the cult)."^^ Keil and Delitzsch, 
accordingly, understand the meaning of the phrase in which this word 
is found to be, "'and let not fields of first-fruit offerings be upon you,' 
i.e. fields producing fruit, from which offerings of first-fruits were 
presented. "^^ Freedman, however, offers an alternative understanding 
of the term. He would translate n?3inn "'lU'T as "Even you lofty 
fields."''' Fokkelman offers a good defense of this understanding. He 

nDTin is a poetic plural which means "high position." It is true that 
in all other cases in the OT the word means "offering, cultic contribu- 
tion," but 1 would like to point out that the words of the root riim do 
not usually have such a specific and so extremely limited semantic field 
at all. riim, "be high, elevated" can be used for such divergent matters 
as limbs, objects and persons; it also occurs in a figurative sense. It is 
quite conceivable that, in keeping, the word t'^ruma must originally 
have had a wider field of meaning and that only in the course of the 
history of scriptural language it was limited to a specific cultic use. I 
suppose that II Sam 1 21 is the only evidence extant in the limited 
selection of the classical Hebrew literature which is called the OT t^riima 
has the same meaning there as the masc. marom. The semantic identi- 
fication of a noun with mem praeformans and a noun with taw prae- 
formans is admissible.*^ 

When this suggestion is accepted, the difficulty of the term is relieved 
without emendation of the text. Therefore, this understanding will be 

"On the suggested emendations to alleviate the difficulties of this term, see the 
discussion above, pp. 102-3. 

'*BDB, 929. 

^'Holladay, Lexicon, 395. Cf. Alcalay {Hebrew- English Dictionary, 2846), who 
lists the meanings "offering, gift, donation; contribution; oblation" and associates 
Terumah with the priestly tithe on produce. 

*°Keil and Delitzsch, Second Samuel, 290. 

'''Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 122. In this he is followed by Shea, 
"David's Lament," 141. 

"j. P. Fokkelman, "nann nur in II Sam 1 21a— a non-existent crux," ZAW 9\ 

zapf: David's lament 109 

One final term that bears mention is the term ]]10 in v 21b. The 
meaning is normally understood as "shield," but Freedman interprets 
the term as "benefactor, suzerain, chieftain," and offers Ps 84:10 as an 
example of this meaning. ^^ However, there is no need to turn to a 
secondary usage of this word. As Shea argues, "Considering the 
Palestinian provenience and the early date of 2 Samuel 1, 'shield' 
seems the more likely translation of mgn here."^'' 

With this lexical discussion in mind, it is now time to turn to the 
passage as a whole. The next section will analyze the structure of the 


The skill of David as the "sweet singer of Israel" is clearly dis- 
played in this lament. David employed many of the poetic devices the 
Hebrew poet had available to produce an elegant, yet tightly struc- 
tured lament. Furthermore, he did this in spite of the difficulty he 
faced in eulogizing in a single poetical unit two men with whom he 
had very different relationships. Holladay well summarizes David's 

David faced a unique problem here: his lament is for two fallen heroes, 
with each of whom he had a very different relationship. Now it is never 
easy to compose a eulogy for two at the same time, and it is still harder 
to compose a eulogy for two when the relationships are so very different 
as David's with Saul and Jonathan. . . . That he succeeded in a way 
which gives complete esthetic satisfaction is the measure of his skill." 

The first question that needs to be asked when studying the 
structure of this lament is, "where does the lament begin?" Both 
Smith" and Driver^^ follow Klostermann in seeing 1?3X''1 in v 18 as 
the introduction to the lament. This suggestion forces them to offer 
emendations of the MT for v 18 because as it stands, it cannot be part 

''^Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 122. On this basis Freedman must 
insist that the use of ""Va in v 21b is assertive, rather than the normal use of this term as 
a poetic negative particle. However, neither Kautzsch and Cowley (Hebrew Grammar, 
481, §152g[f, g]) or Ronald J. Williams {Hebrew Syntax: An Outline, 2d ed. [Toronto: 
University of Toronto, 1976] 68-69, §417-20) recognize such a use. 

"Shea, "David's Lament," 142, n. 5. 

"Holladay, "Form and Word-Play," 188. Note that Holladay makes these remarks 
on the basis of his "reconstruction" of the Hebrew text. Nevertheless, his remarks are 
also appropriate for the MT text as it stands. 

^^Smith, The Books of Samuel, 260. 

"Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text, 234. 


of the lament. However, they have no textual support for the emen- 
dations they suggest. Rather than assuming 10X"'T must immediately 
precede the lament, it is a better procedure to see if the text makes 
sense as it is before suggesting that the text be emended. This verse 
does make sense as an introductory instruction for the lament; there- 
fore, the following structural analysis will begin with v 19. 

Several recent works have dealt with the structure of 2 Sam 
1:19-27.^* Shea suggests the following structure for the lament: 

vs. 19 
vs. 20 
vs. 21 

vs. 22 
vs. 23 
vs. 24-25 
vs. 26 

vs. 27 

Inclusio (bicolon) 
Standard couplet (bicola) 
— Qinah couplet 

Standard couplet (bicola) 
Qinah couplet 
Standard couplet (tricola) 
Qinah couplet 
Inclusio (bicolonf ^ 

Daughters of the Philistines 

Daughters of Israel 

The ''Qinah couplet" consists of a tricolon plus a bicolon. Shea's 
theory of the structure, however, breaks up the syntax of the lament. 
For example, he reads v 23 in the following way: 

Saul and Jonathan, 

who were beloved and graceful 

in their life and in their death they were not separated. 
They were swifter than eagles. 

They were stronger than lions. 

I agree that the last two lines form a bicolon. However, his first three 
lines form a tightly structured bicolon as well. The Hebrew reads: 

Here, a plural subject to the sentence is followed by two modifiers 
(participles in apposition to the subject). The last part begins with 
two modifiers (adverbial prepositional phrases) followed by a plural 
verb. Thus, there is a syntactical unity with the subject and verb at 
the extremities of the bicolon surrounding two sets of two modifiers. 
Thus, Shea's ""Qinah couplet" (a central factor in his analysis) is 

Note that both Gevirtz {Patterns, 72-96) and Holladay ("Form and Word-Play," 
153-89) have extensive discussions on the structure of 2 Samuel 1 beginning with v 18. 
However, their discussion is omitted from consideration here because they do not 
discuss the structure of the MT text, but the structure of their "reconstructed" text. 
""'Shea, "David's Lament," 143. 

zapf: David's lament 1 1 1 

found not to exist (at least in this case), invalidating his structuring of 
the lament. Therefore, an alternate structure must be sought. 

Freedman has done extensive work with the metrical structure of 
the lament. On the basis of syllable counts he proposes the following 

Vs. 19(20) ^_ 
Vs. 20(36)^" 

Vs. 21(39) 

Vs. 22(29) 

Vs. 24(32) 

Vs. 26(31)^ 

Vs. 25(24)^^^ 

Vs. 23(41)-^ 


Vs. 27(16)' 

Freedman says, "The individual units vary in length but when com- 
bined in accordance with their distinctive characteristics (key words 
or phrases), the larger groups are evenly matched."^' This makes a 
nice numerical scheme, but unfortunately it does not fit these verses 
semantically (e.g., the subject matter of v 21 is not closely related to 
that of V 26). Furthermore, this structuring leaves v 27 isolated from 
the rest of the lament in spite of its parallelism with v 19. Therefore, 
this scheme too is inadequate. 

O'Connor has also done extensive work on the structure of 
2 Sam 1:19-27 in Hebrew Verse Structure. He analyzes the lament as 
a long stave^^ of 30 lines. The first two and the last two lines (vv 19 
and 27) he sees as the burdens of the lament with a fixed inner line 
(v 19b and v 27a) and a free outer line (v 19a and v 27b). Enveloped 
by the burdens are 4 batches, the first two consisting of 8 lines of 4 
couplets each (vv 20-21 and vv 22-23) and the last two consisting of 
5 lines each. The third batch (vv 24-25) begins with and the fourth 
batch (v 26) ends with a 3 line group; the third batch ends with and 
the fourth batch begins with a 2 line group. Thus, the last two batches 
form a 3:2/2:3 pattern." 

Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 126. 


'"O'Connor uses the term "stave" to denote the largest poetical unit in Hebrew 
poetry which normally consists of 23 to 31 lines according to his analysis. He uses the 
term "batch" to refer to a small unit of 5 to 8 lines, which under unusual circumstances 
may vary from 1 to 12 lines. A final term he uses in his description of poetic units is 
"burden." A burden is a refrain structure of 2 to 8 lines containing fixed (i.e., repeated 
in each occurrence of the burden) and free (i.e., non-repeated) lines. See O'Connor, 
Hebrew Verse Structure, 527-33. 

"Ibid., 468-71. 


O'Connor's lineation of the lament arises from his analysis of the 
interaction of two strictures at play in the structuring of Hebrew 
verse. ^'* The first stricture is syntactic; the second stricture he calls 
"troping," which refers to a broad range of phenomena including 
(among other things) various forms of parallelism, repetition, match- 
ing, gapping, coloration, and mixing/^ The structure, then, arises in 
the interaction of syntax with tropes. This method of analyzing struc- 
ture overcomes the limitations evident in both Shea's and Freedman's 
analyses. A detailed diagram based on O'Connor's lineation and 
grouping of lines along with a basic analysis of the interrelation of 
parts is found in the Appendix to this article. The following structural 
analysis of 2 Sam 1:19-27 relies heavily upon O'Connor's analysis of 
the lament. 

An inclusio is formed by vv 19 and 27, uniting the whole lament. 
Both verses are composed of a single bicolon. The second colon of 

V 19 and the first colon of v 27 read exactly the same: D'nDJi iVd] yn. 
Thus, the inclusio is chiastically arranged. There is a further chiastic 
arrangement (both syntactic and semantic) between v 19a and v 27b. 
The last word of v 19a is the verb, '?'7n, while the first word of v 27b is 
also a verb, IIDK"'!; both have reference to death. VxiU^' ''I'sn and 
nonVo ■'Vd are thus found to be matching terms with ITnOD"*?!? of 

V 19a dropped out in v 27b. 

The first batch of the lament is found in vv 20-21. This unit 
consists of four bicolons. The syntax of these lines divides the bicolons 
into two sets of two bicolons. The first set is found in v 20. Here a 
bicolon of two main clauses is followed by a bicolon of two sub- 
ordinate clauses. O'Connor calls this clause mixing. ^^ Both bicolons 
are set in direct parallelism, but with nxinD of v 20b gapped out of 

V 20a. The first bicolon examples geographical binomation;" that is. 

'"O'Connor (ibid., 4-5) notes that the strictures were recognized by Lowth in what 
has been the standard description of Hebrew poetry. Lowth termed these two strictures 
meter (which he considered hopelessly lost to the modern reader) and parallelism. 
O'Connor believes that Lowth's crucial insight was not the discovery of parallelism, but 
the realization "that parallelistic phenomena alone cannot suffice to describe Hebrew 
verse; something else is going on, which Lowth called meter" and the realization that 
these two phenomena are interacting. O'Connor's book, Hebrew Verse Structure, is his 
attempt to refine the understanding of these two strictures and their interaction. 
O'Connor argues that the regularities Lowth regarded as phonological and called 
"meter" are in fact syntactic. Thus, he subjects the text to intensive linguistic analysis. 
The other factor in Lowth's description, loosely known as parallelism, O'Connor 
expands and refines by outlining various "tropes" or figures of speech found in Hebrew 

"For an explanation of these terms see ibid., 87-137. 

'*Ibid., 421. 

"ibid., 376. 

zapf: David's lament 113 

the bipartite geographical titles refer to the whole geopolitical region 
encompassed by the points of reference. Thus Gath, standing at the 
eastern edge of Philistine territory near the hill country of Israel, and 
Ashkelon by the sea represent all of Philistine territory. Exhibited in 
the second bicolon of v 20 is an adjectival combination.^* The first 
line of the bicolon uses a noun (D"'nU''7D) and its match in the second 
line is an adjective (D"'VlS?n). Thus, it is the daughters of the "uncir- 
cumcised Philistines" who are not to rejoice at the deaths of Saul and 

The second set of bicolons in the first batch is found in v 21. The 
subordinating conjunction ""D in v21c binds the bicolons together. 
There is a chiastically arranged match in the first bicolon. Syntac- 
tically, the match can be analyzed as vocative/ predicate/ subject// 
subject/ predicate/ vocative. ^^ Recognizing this structure aids the in- 
terpreter in understanding n?3Tin ''l^^ at the end of v 21b. This phrase 
matches nn in v 21a, indicating that a technical sense is not in mind 
here (cf. discussion above, p. 108). The 1 on nin is emphatic. *° 
Repetition is employed in v 21c-d with ]3iO. These two Hnes are a 
poetic expansion of the idea, "because there lies the shield of mighty 
Saul no longer anointed with oil." 

The second batch is found in vv 22-23. Like the first batch, this 
batch has two sets of two bicolons. The first set is found in v 22. Each 
bicolon uses direct syntactic parallelism. The two bicolons of this 
verse are combined by the use of phrase mixing;*' two phrases are 
followed by two main clauses. There is a formal relationship of the 
first phrase with the first clause and the second phrase with the second 
clause (an alternating structure of ab:a'b'), but the effect of the mixing 
is to unite all the elements (i.e., "from the blood/ fat of the wounded 
warriors, the bow/ sword of Jonathan/ Saul did not return empty"). 

The second set of this batch is related to the first batch through 
the repetition of the royal names Saul and Jonathan. The use of the 
plural subject "Saul and Jonathan" in v 23a confirms the analysis that 
the elements in v 22 are all united. As was noted earlier (p. 1 10), there 
is a syntactic unity in the first bicolon of v 23 with a plural subject 
and a plural verb surrounding two sets of two modifiers. The last 
bicolon exhibits direct syntactic parallelism. 

There is a further structural pattern in this second batch. The 
first bicolon (v 22a-b) and the last bicolon (v 23c-d) of the batch 

'"Ibid., 384. 

^''On the use of the construct form, nn, as a vocative, see below, p. 118. 
Cf. Freedman, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 122 and O'Connor, Hebrew 
Verse Structure, 23 1 . 


each consists of two lines of two elements per line set in direct syn- 
tactic parallelism, thus enveloping the batch. The middle four lines 
are each composed of three constituents.*^ 

Verses 24-25 comprise the third batch. The five lines of this 
batch form a tricolon followed by a bicolon. In the tricolon, the first 
line is a main clause and is followed by two dependent clauses. Each 
line has three constituents and there is syntactic matching between the 
two dependent lines. Further, the two dependent lines are bound 
together by the assonance of the first word, p;z;D'??3n," and the last 
word, ptt'ia'?. As noted earlier, v 25 is a fake coda. 

The last batch (v 26) is similar to the third batch in that it has 
five lines, but this time the bicolon is followed by the tricolon. Em- 
ployed in V 26a-b is what O'Connor calls personal binomation, in 
which the name and title of a person are inextricably bound together.*'' 
The arrangement of this feature here is chiastic, with the title*^ found 
at the end of the first line and the name found at the beginning of the 
second line. The tricolon (v 26c-e) is formed with three verbless 
clauses, each having two constituents.*^ There is alternation in the 
syntactic pattern, with v 26c, e arranged predicate-'subject and v 26d 
arranged subject-'predicate. This structure results in a variation of 
the placement of the repeated term SHK in v 26d, e. 

Structural relationships may also be found traversing the batch 
boundaries. The first batch relates to Saul; the fourth batch to Jona- 
than. Saul's name is found in the second half of the first batch; 
Jonathan's name in the first part of the fourth batch. The second and 
third batches speak of both Saul and Jonathan. The first set of 
bicolons in the second batch treats Jonathan, then Saul; the third 
batch treats Saul, then Jonathan — a chiastic arrangement which en- 
velopes the treatment of Saul and Jonathan in the second set of 
bicolons in the second batch. A contrast may be seen between the 
daughters of the uncircumcised Philistines (v 20) and the daughters of 
Israel (v 21). There is a structural similarity between the first and 
second batches. Both are formed by two sets of two bicolons. The 
opening set of bicolons are structured similarly with the first batch 
using clause mixing and the second batch using phrase mixing. The 

A construct noun with its genitive is taken as one constituent (e.g., jnjin'' rUTp), 
as is the negative with the verb. The plural subject in v 23a is also taken as a single 
constituent. My analysis of v 23a-b is contra O'Connor (ibid., 329, 334), who sees 
these lines as consisting of two constituents. 

^Note the ] for the D of the MT. See discussion of this emendation above, p. 103. 
"ibid., 374-75. 
On nx as a title, see below, p. 121. 
The constituents of the last line are the interrogative and the construct-genitive 

chain D'tt^j nanx. 


use of the plural Dm2J in v 21c in a bicolon referring to Saul is 
echoed in v 25a in a bicolon referring to Jonathan. The word 3nx is 
repeated in v 23a and v 26d, e. The bicolons found in the third and 
fourth batches both speak of Jonathan. The trope of repetition is 
found at the end of the first batch and the end of the fourth batch. 
These trans-batch relationships unify the whole lament. 

The personal references to Saul and Jonathan are a major unify- 
ing factor in the lament. However, the references are also a point of 
tension, given David's personal relationships to these men. O'Connor 
makes the following perceptive remarks on the structure of the lament 
and this tension: 

There is no structural reading of the Lament based on linguistic criteria 
which will resolve the tension of reference in the poem, because it is a 
genuine tension; similarly, some doubt will always attach to the ex- 
plication of the epithet 'the Gazelle'. The poem is about Saul and 
Jonathan; and, further, it is more about Jonathan. The treatment of 
Saul is split over two loci, 2 led and 24abc. The split has the effect of 
setting Saul up as dominant over the whole poem. In contrast, six of 
the seven or six lines treating Jonathan occur together. These six 
(despite their blocking) balance Saul's five because they include the last 
batch of the poem. Further, Jonathan is treated in the fake coda, 25b. 
The reading of the first line is not crucial in working out Jonathan's 
place in the poem's scheme, because even if it refers to Saul, Jonathan's 
lines still have greater structural prominence. The poem is diverse in its 
use of resources: it does not slight Saul, while giving prominence to 
Jonathan. ^^ 

From this structural analysis of David's Lament, his skill as a 
poet becomes obvious. Translation of 2 Sam 1:17-27 and a few exe- 
getical remarks will close this discussion of 2 Sam 1:17-27 proper 
before an attempt is made to understand this portion in its literary 


The problems encountered thus far have been solved sufficiently 
to allow a tentative translation of the text and for exegetical remarks 
to be made. This will be done in this section in a verse by verse 

Verse 17 

Then David uttered this lament over Saul and over Jonathan his son. 


This verse is the basic introduction to the lament of vv 19-27. 
The term nrp/ "lament" is used of a formal utterance which expresses 
grief or distress.^* It is to be distinguished from the word group 
having the root 1DD which "covers most of the spontaneous vocal 
expressions of grief, whether uttered by hired mourners or by those 
who were affected by the bereavement."^^ The n3"'p, on the other 
hand, could be learned and practiced (cf. Jer 9:9). Cross and Freed- 
man remark that 2 Sam 1:19-27 "is a typical lamentation or Qinah 
[although] it is not composed in the elegiac rhythm of later times, but 
has precisely the same metrical and strophic form as the victory 
hymns." While the analysis presented here rejects Freedman's met- 
rical scheme as a structuring device for the lament, perhaps there is a 
point to be made that the metrics of the text are a subtle indication of 
what follows in the text: David becomes king over Israel in place of 
the house of Saul. 

Verse 18 

And he commanded that it be taught to the men of Judah. The Bow. 
Written in the book ofJasher. 

Some of the problems connected with this verse have been noted 
earlier (see above, pp. 101-2, 109-10). The term Dtt^p is awkward and 
seems to stand independent of the rest of the verse. Since, as was said 
above, there seems to be no evidence for a legitimate emendation of 
the verse, it seems best to take this term as the title of the lament. Keil 
and Delitzsch say that the title is given "not only because the bow is 
referred to (ver. 22), but because it is a martial ode, and the bow was 
one of the principal weapons used by the warriors of that age."^' 
Hertzberg suggests, "'Bow' may have been added to the title as a 
characteristic word featuring in the poem, just as, for example, the 
second Sura of the Koran has been called 'the cow'."^^ The promi- 
nence of the bow is also seen in the literary setting of the lament. Saul 
was critically wounded by archers (1 Sam 31:3). While the exact means 
whereby Jonathan was killed is not recorded, the text indicates that 
Saul and his sons were together in the heat of the battle (1 Sam 31:2), 

Cf. Ackroyd, Second Samuel, 25. 

^'Eileen F. DeWard, "Mourning Customs in 1, 2 Samuel," Journal of Jewish 
Studies 23 (1972) 17. 

'"Cross and Freedman, Studies in Yahwistic Poetry, 6. For the metrical analysis of 
Freedman see his work, "The Refrain in David's Lament," 124-27. 

"Keil and Delitzsch, Second Samuel, 288. 

'^Hertzberg, I & II Samuel, 238-39. 

zapf: David's lament 117 

so it is reasonable to assume that Jonathan was killed by archers. 
Furthermore, Jonathan may have had skill as an archer (cf. his use of 
the bow and arrow in 1 Samuel 20) whereas no mention is made in 
the text of Saul as an archer. The title, then, may be a subtle indica- 
tion of David's preference of Jonathan. 

The book of Jasher is also mentioned in Josh 10:13 and 1 Kgs 
8:53 (LXX).^^ Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible says this was "A 
written document mentioned as though well known and containing 
Joshua's poetic address to the sun and the moon (Josh. 10:12-13), 
David's lament over Saul and Jonathan (II Sam. 1:17-27), and 
probably . . . Solomon's original words of dedication of the temple 
(1 Kings 8:12-13)."^^ The term "Jasher" is a transliteration of "W^ 
which means "straight" or "upright, "^^ indicating that the title of this 
collection is descriptive. 

Verse 19 

: Dniaj iVp3 T'x VVn ^''nina-Vy '7xnu'^ ■'psn 

The gazelle! glory, Israel, upon your heights is slain. How are the 
mighty fallen! 

As was mentioned above, the first term of this verse, ''3Xn is 
probably purposely ambiguous both in reference and in meaning. The 
heights refer, of course, to Mount Gilboa, the scene of Saul's and 
Jonathan's deaths (1 Samuel 31; 1 Chronicles 10). With O'Connor,^^ I 
read '?'?n as a Qal passive, yv, with the perfect is a term which 
expresses "Astonishment or indignation at something which has 
happened. "^^ 

Verse 20 

: Q^biVTi nil? natVyn-iD D^ntp'Vs nl32 n3n^u7n-|D 

Do not report it in Gath! Do not proclaim it in the streets of 
Ashkelon! Lest the women of the Philistines rejoice, lest the women 
of the uncircumcised exult ! 

The LXX does not refer to this book in Josh 10:13. In 2 Sam 1:18 it translates 
liy with ei)0oO(;. 1 Kgs 8:53 in the LXX has PipX.icp xf\c, (pSfjg, "Book of songs," which 
is generally assumed to refer to the same collection. 
* Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, vol. 2, 803. 
'^BDB, 449. 

^O'Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure, 23 1 . 
''Kautzsch and Cowley, Hebrew Grammar, 471 (§148a, b). 


Undoubtedly David thought that the news of the deaths of Saul 
and Jonathan would weaken Israel's position in Palestine against 
their enemy the Philistines. Under Saul's rule, Israel had moved away 
from the domination of the Philistines. As Hauer notes, "Prior to the 
battle [at Michmash, which was Saul's first decisive action against the 
Philistines] the Philistines seemed able to work their will at the heart 
of the Israelite hill country. Not so afterward. "^^ However, despite 
this desire expressed by David, the news surely spread. Nevertheless, 
the news did not result in renewed military action against Israel by 
the Philistines. Hauer remarks, 

Philistine overconfidence may have brooked larger than Israelite power 
in the failure to follow up the triumph at Gilboa. They may have 
thought the death of Saul had ended their problems with the hill 
people. There is no record of serious Philistine action against Israel 
until David was perceived as a threat. ... It is not too much to say that 
by the very fact of his death Saul bought David the time he needed to 
build a military establishment capable of coping with the Philistines 
once and for all.'' 

Verse 21 

: ]t2m Tvp72 •''73 ViKU^ ]^,rp onia? |J0 bvy} n^ "•? 

Mountains! Let there be in Gilboa no dew. Let there be no rain on 
you, even you, lofty fields. Because there lies cast aside the shield of 
the mighty, the shield of Saul no longer anointed with oil. 

The construction VdVjiD "'"in is unusual with a noun in the con- 
struct state followed by a noun attached to the preposition D. Kautzsch 
and Cowley note this construction in "rapid narrative" as a connect- 
ing form. The noun "'"in is functionally a vocative, but by using a 
construct form, David emphasizes that the curse he utters in this 
verse is intended specifically for Gilboa, the land on which Saul and 
Jonathan were slain. '°' Fenton perceptively remarks. 

The words of II Sam. I 21 constitute a literary conceit. The poet 
(speaking in the person of David?) implies that the violent death of 
Saul (and Jonathan?), the fact that he was not laid to rest peacefully 
and buried with his weapons as appropriate (they had been taken as 
booty, I Sam. XXXI 9-10) was so outrageous an event, so cruel a 

Hauer, "Saulide Strategy," 153-54. 
'Ibid., 166-67, n. 45. 
'"Kautzsch and Cowley, Hebrew Grammar. 421 (§130a). 

See the remarks of Ackroyd, Second Samuel, 26. 

zapf: David's lament 1 19 

disaster, as to be as shocking as murder. In a bold hyperbole he curses 
the Hills of Gilboa praying that they suffer drought — the consequence 
of bloodguiltiness — and he does so using the ancient phrases which 
may still in his day have been associated with the tale of an actual 
murder and the actual drought consequent upon it. His equation of 
death in battle with murder is an extravagance intended to express the 
affection of David, of Israel, for Saul and Jonathan and the emotion 
stirred by their slaying. '°^ 

Shea describes the mountain range which received this curse in the 
following terms: 

Gilboa is not a solitary mountain peak, nor a series of peaks, but a 
ridge some eight miles long and three to five miles wide running south- 
east and south from Jezreel. It forms the watershed between the plain 
of Esdraelon and the plain around Beth-Shean, dropping away sharply 
to the north and east. It slopes gradually to the west, however, and on 
this gentle fertile terrain, barley, wheat, figs and olives are grown. The 
description "fields of the heights" suits this western slope to which rain 
and dew were denied by the curse in this poem."'^ 

The reason this curse is placed on Gilboa is because "the shield 
of Saul" lies unanointed on it. The term bV7,l has the connotation 
"cast aside (with loathing)" '"'' and this imagery is reinforced by the 
statement that Saul's shield was no longer anointed. Oil rubbed on a 
shield was necessary to keep it in proper condition.'"^ "Shield" is used 
here figuratively as a metonymy for Saul himself. 

Verse 22 

"iinx y'lm x"? imin' niyj? aniaji nVno n^V'rn nirp 

From the blood of the slain (warriors) and the fat of the (slain) 
warriors, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back and the sword of 
Saul was not returned empty. 

Here David turns to a praise of Saul and Jonathan as military 
heroes of Israel. As Keil and Delitzsch suggest, "The figure upon 
which the passage is founded is, that arrows drink the blood of the 
enemy, and a sword devours their flesh (vid. Deut xxxii. 42; Isa. 
xxxiv. 5, 6; Jer. xlvi. 10)."'°' 

Fenton, "Ugaritica — Biblica," 68. 
'° Shea, "David's Lament," 141-42. 
'"'BDB, 171. 

'"^Cf. A. R. Millard, "Saul's Shield not Anointed with Oil," BASOR 230 (1978) 

*Keil and Delitzsch, Second Samuel, 291. 


Verse 23 

nn?? x"? DnlQ3T Dn''»n2 dt?"-!??:!-! D''Drix3n ]r\m^^ bMip 

^'tfw/ and Jonathan, loved and lovely, in their lives and in their deaths 
they were not separated. They are swifter than eagles, stronger than 

Keil and Delitzsch note that "The light motion or swiftness of an 
eagle . . . , and the strength of a lion . . . , were the leading charac- 
teristics of the great heroes of antiquity. "'°^ The idea of life and death 
is used to express the total time period of their lives. '°^ The fact that 
Saul and Jonathan were not separated refers to more than the fact 
that they were slain on the same battlefield. Jonathan remained loyal 
to his father throughout his life in spite of his recognition that David 
would rule Israel, and not he. Nevertheless, even at the battle which 
brought his death he was faithfully at his father's side fighting a hated 

Verse 24 

Women of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with luxurious 
scarlet and put ornaments of gold upon your clothes. 

The women of Israel are called upon to weep because of the loss 
of their benefactor. Weeping was the expected response to death. 
Kepelrud notes, "Death was followed by weeping and mourning, 
whether they liked the deceased or not. It was a force in itself, and the 
right ceremonies had to be performed. ""^^ 

In this verse Saul is represented as bringing a measure of pros- 
perity to Israel. It must be recognized that while the biblical text 
"clearly displays anti-Saul biases," "° it also intimates a measure of 
peace and prosperity attained under Saul's rule that had not been 
experienced in the prior period. Evidence for this assertion is found in 
the absence of Philistine control of Israel during Saul's reign and the 


Cf. Ackroyd, Second Samuel, 11. 

Arvid S. Kapelrud, The Violent Goddess: Anal in the Ras Shamra Texts (Oslo: 
Universitetsforlaget, 1969)81. 

William E. Evans, "An Historical Reconstruction of the Emergence of Israelite 
Kingship and the Reign of Saul," in Scripture in Context //, William W. Hallo, 
James C. Moyer, and Leo G. Perdue, eds. (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1983) 77. 

zapf: David's lament 121 

loyalty Saul commanded, even in the southern portions of Israel (see, 
e.g., 1 Sam 23:3-12, 19-20; 31:11-13; and 2 Sam 16:5-8).'" 

Verse 25 

nQnV?3ri "^in? ana; i'?d5 ^^x 

How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies 
slain on your heights. 

V?n is taken as a Qal passive as in v 19. The similarity of v 25 
with v 19 and v 27 has been noted. But the structural analysis showed 
that V 25 was not structurally related to either of these other verses, 
but that it is a fake coda (i.e., a false ending). The separate treatment 
of Jonathan in a fake coda subtly shows David's preference for him. 

Verse 26 

: u''^\ riDnxTD 'V ^n2nx nnxVs? 

It is a distress to me concerning you, my brother. Jonathan, you were 
very pleasant to me. You are wonderful. Your love is mine. What is 
the love of women? 

Here David breaks out in a truly emotional lament over the loss 
of his friend. The last clause is difficult to translate. Generally the ?3 
of nnnXQ has been understood as comparative with the resulting 
translation, "your love for me is better than the love of women." 
However, the above structural analysis suggests that the last part of 
V 26 consists of three independent verbless clauses. This rules out the 
use of as a comparative. Therefore, the D should be understood as 
an interrogative (an abbreviation of n?3). 

As noted in the structural analysis, O'Connor believes v 26a-b 
exhibits personal binomation in which TIX is used as a title. O'Connor 
states, "The relationship between David and Jonathan warrants a 
technical reading of the term ^h 'brother,' in view both of their 
covenanting and of David's later protection of Jonathan's son.""^ 
The covenantal force of the term can be seen in its use describing the 
relationship between rulers (e.g., 1 Kgs9:13) and between nations 
(e.g., Num 20:14). 

'Cf. ibid., 71-72, 77. See also Hauer, "Saulide Strategy," 161. 
O'Connor, Hebrew Verse Structure. 375. 


Verse 27 

//ow flre the mighty fallen! They are perished, the instruments of war. 

The "instruments of war" have been generally understood as 
referring to Saul and Jonathan themselves."^ Thus, the last line of 
the lament refocuses attention on the subjects of and the reason for 
the lament. 


The books of Joshua through 2 Kings are known as the "Former 
Prophets." This characterization of these books is somewhat curious. 
Prophetical material is normally associated by Christians with such 
books as Isaiah or Daniel, or the Minor Prophets, and so on. On the 
other hand, the Joshua-Kings narrative reads as history. Perhaps the 
title "Former Prophets" arose because of the belief that these anony- 
mously written works were in fact written by prophets."" Be that as it 
may, the title does indeed characterize the content of these books, 
performing the prophetic task of revealing God's will and word to 

The prophetical and historical nature of Joshua-Kings coalesces 
in the selection and interpretation of the details used in recording 
"what happened." Martin Noth has called this narrative a "deuter- 
onomistic history.""^ To Noth this term referred to a reworking of 
historical traditions (and of the original "Deuteronomy") by a redac- 
tor (or group of redactors) to form a unified theological history of the 
nation of Israel from the period of the Conquest to the Babylonian 
Captivity. With a slight modification, Noth's theory seems to capture 
the organizing principle of the Joshua-Kings narrative. Noth denied 
the authenticity of the present Deuteronomy as Mosaic. However, a 
reinterpretation of his basic insight allows one to see the Joshua- 
Kings narrative as a "later and deliberate modeling upon a literally 
Mosaic Deuteronomy.""^ With this readjustment of Noth's premises, 
his statement of the central theological theme of the narrative is 
valuable. He says, 

'"See, e.g., Keil and Delitzsch, Second Samuel, 292; Smith, The Books of Samuel, 
264; and Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text, 239. For a contrary view see Mauchline, 
/ and 2 Samuel, 20 1 . 

"''Cf. R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1969) 664. 

"^Martin Noth, The Deuteronomistic History (JSOT Supplement Series 15; Shef- 
field, J SOT Press, 1981). 

"^Horace D. Hummel, The Word Becoming Flesh (St. Louis: Concordia, 1979) 

zapf: David's lament 123 

The meaning which [the deuteronomist] discovered was that God was 
recognisably at work in this history, continuously meeting the acceler- 
ating moral decline with warnings and punishments and, finally, when 
these proved fruitless, with total annihilation. Dtr., then, perceives a 
just divine retribution in the history of the people, though not so much 
(as yet) in the fate of the individual."^ 

The question at hand, then, is "How does David's Lament con- 
tribute to the development of the central theme in the Joshua-Kings 
narrative?" A step in the direction of answering this question may be 
taken by comparing the narrative surrounding the Lament with the 
other OT narrative dealing with the history of Israel in the time of 
Saul and David. That narrative is, of course, Chronicles. A compari- 
son of the Hebrew texts of 1 Sam 31:1-2 Sam 5:3 and 1 Chr 10:1-11:3 
reveals some interesting facts. There is almost exact verbal agreement 
found between 1 Sam 31:1-13 and 1 Chr 10:1-12."^ The text in 
Chronicles then adds the editorial comment, 

Saul died because he was unfaithful to the Lord; he did not keep the 
word of the Lord and even consulted a medium for guidance, and did 
not inquire of the Lord. So the Lord put him to death and turned the 
kingdom over to David son of Jesse (1 Chr 10:13-14). 

The Chronicler then resumes his account with a passage that is almost 
word for word the same as 2 Sam 5:1-3."^ The near perfect verbal 
agreement gives evidence that the Chronicler had access to a text of 
the Samuel narrative when he compiled his account. However, he 
omitted entirely the content of 2 Samuel 1-4. 

There are a couple of inferences that can be drawn from these 
facts. Hummel notes, 

The public, corporate concern of the variations [of Chronicles com- 
pared to Samuel/ Kings] seems established by the fact that nearly 
everything of the private lives of David and Solomon is omitted, not 
only what might possibly besmirch their reputation (as critics often 
construe it), but also episodes which might have contributed to an 
idealized portrait.'^" 

By inference it may be argued that the Samuel-Kings narrative is 
concerned with the private lives of these men. This coincides with the 
deuteronomistic styling of the Joshua-Kings narrative. Even a cursory 

Noth, The Deuteronomistic History, 89. 
"*This can easily be seen in Abba Bendavid, Parallels in the Bible (Jerusalem: 
Carta, 1972)30-31. 
'"See ibid., 35-36. 
'^"Hummel, The Word Becoming Flesh, 623. 


reading of this narrative reveals that as went the leaders of the nation 
(i.e., either following Yahweh or not), so went the nation. Thus, the 
narrative is concerned with the personal qualities of David as the 
leader of the nation: do his qualities merit Yahweh's blessing for the 
nation? The answer to this question, at least until David's sin with 
Bathsheba, is "Yes." The text is careful to show that David is no mere 
usurper to the throne of Israel. David purposefully avoided killing 
king Saul on two occasions (1 Samuel 24, 26). When the report came 
that Saul had been killed, David put to death the messenger who 
claimed to have inflicted the final blow (2 Sam 1:14-16; cf. 2 Sam 
4:10). David rewarded the men who had risked their lives to bury 
Saul (2 Sam 2:4-7). David disclaimed any part in the murder of 
Abner, the commander of Saul's army who initially served Ish- 
Bosheth, Saul's son and successor (2 Sam 3:28-29). And finally, David 
put to death the men who killed Ish-Bosheth himself (2 Samuel 4). 
David's Lament contributes to this portrait of David as a man who 
did not seek his own, but waited on the hand of Yahweh. 

A second inference that can be drawn from a comparison of the 
account in Samuel with the account in Chronicles concerns the right 
to rule over Israel. The historical account in Chronicles of Saul's rule 
over Israel begins with Saul's death! The kings of the Northern King- 
dom are never treated in Chronicles as having a legitimate right to 
rule. The Northern kings are never given the title "King of Israel," but 
this title is consistently applied to the kings of Judah. Perhaps the 
Chronicler, from his historical perspective, does this to reinforce the 
underlying unity of the kingdom and the right of Davidic rule. The 
Samuel-Kings narrative, however, presents a more accurate picture 
of the political realities during this period. With this difference be- 
tween the two accounts in mind, the actions of David (as noted 
above) can legitimately be read in another light (and not be contra- 
dictory to the assertions made above). There are indications in the 
narrative that Saul commanded a great deal of respect from his sub- 
jects, in the South as well as the North. As Evans notes, 

faced with the external military threat and the internal political threat 
posed by a pretender, [Saul] is an effective military leader despite his 
emotional affliction. He is succeeded by his son, and the pretender to 
the northern throne is forced to play a careful political game before he 
is able to take over Saul's home territory. Even then, strong pro-Saul 
and anti-David feelings are manifested by curse and later by open 
rebellion against David. '^' 

Evans, "The Emergence of Israelite Kingship," 77. 

zapf: David's lament 125 

The notion that David had to woo the leadership of the nation to his 
side is reinforced by his action recorded in 1 Sam 30:26 — following 
his defeat of the Amalekites he sent plunder to the elders of Judah. 

One final note may be added about the characteristics of the 
Joshua-Kings narrative as it relates to David's Lament. It seems that 
in this narrative, the relative good of those who are otherwise dis- 
obedient to Yahweh is credited to their account (cf. 2 Kgs 10:30-31). 
Thus the Lament is a fitting tribute to Saul, the "tragic hero."'^^ 

To summarize, in its literary setting, David's Lament can be read 
on a number of levels. First, it contributes to an idealized picture of 
David as a king whose obedience Yahweh may bless. Second, as part 
of a series of actions, it contributes to a realistic picture of how David 
came to accede to the throne of Israel. And finally, it softens the 
picture of Saul, crediting him for the effective leadership he did pro- 
vide for Israel. 


It is hoped that by now the reader has gained an appreciation for 
both the problems and the beauty of David's lament over the deaths 
of Saul and Jonathan. I have been reminded once again through this 
study of the integral part human emotions have in the life of man. 
Driver wrote of this lament. 

There breathes throughout a spirit of generous admiration for Saul, 
and of deep and pure affection for Jonathan: the bravery of both 
heroes, the benefits conferred by Saul upon his people, the personal 
gifts possessed by Jonathan, are commemorated by the poet in beautiful 
and pathetic language. It is remarkable that no religious thought of any 
kind appears in the poem: the feeling expressed by it is purely human.^^^ 

Emotion is not detached from the world in which man is placed. 
Human emotion may reflect a character pleasing to God (as seen here 
in the life of David), or a character not in harmony with him. And 
the display of that emotion may either move his purposes forward (as 
in the establishment of David's rule over Israel through his respect for 
Saul), or run against the grain of his purposes. 

'^^Cf. W. Lee Humphreys, "From Tragic Hero to Villain: A Study of the Figure of 
Saul and the Development of 1 Samuel," JS0T21 (1982) 95-1 17. 
'^^Driver, Notes on the Hebrew Text, 239. 





n52 iTan-^N 20 

Vd-Vn ysVja nn 

nan'ran tiriD cnnj iVd3 yx 

□■•ly] riDnxQ 



— -nnx J1U73 xV imin-' niyp 

— Dpn aiiyn nV "nsty 3im 
D?2"'V3m Q"'2nK3n innn-'i Vixa? 23 

1133 mnsTD 



— Tin yVy 'V-i:; 26 
nxo "-V n»v3 injin-' 

''nn(N) nVej] 

- Dm2J iVd] yx 27 
rtQn'7« ""Vd n3N"'T 

^Feminine ending as emended. See above, p. 103. 
''See discussion of the emendation on pp. 103-4. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.1 (1984) 127-133 


Curtis Mitchell 

Traditionally when Christians have thought of prayer in con- 
nection with evangelism, it has centered in praying directly for the 
salvation of the sinner. In this article such an emphasis is challenged. 
We will attempt to show that the New Testament advocates prayer 
for saints rather than sinners in the face of evangelistic need. We will 
discuss the nature of truly Biblical evangelistic praying. 

PERHAPS in no area of praying has there been more misunder- 
standing than in the relationship between prayer and evangelism. 
How should one pray concerning an unsaved friend or loved one? It 
is startling to realize that Jesus Christ never prayed explicitly and 
directly for the eternal salvation of a lost person.* It is equally startling 
to realize that neither Jesus nor Paul ever commanded explicit and 
direct prayer for the salvation of the lost. If these statements sound 
startling — they are. If they sound heretical — they are not. 


It is true that implicitly and indirectly there are several places in 
the NT where prayer for the salvation of the lost is allowable. By way 
of example, Jesus taught his disciples to ". . . pray for those who 

Jesus' prayer from the cross, "Father, forgive them . . ." (Luke 23:34), cannot be 
established as part of the text because it is omitted in some very important early 
manuscripts; see R. George; Communion With God in the New Testament (London: 
Epworth, 1953) 47; J. M. Creed, The Gospel According to St. Luke: The Greek Text 
with Introduction, Notes and Indices (London: Macmillan, 1950) 286; 1. H. Marshall, 
The Gospel of Luke (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978) 867. But even if it 
should be allowed, it is not a prayer for the eternal salvation of his persecutors, but 
rather for forgiveness from the specific sin of crucifying him and involved those perpe- 
trating the act or, at most, all in Jerusalem that evening; see J. E. McFadyen, The 
Prayers of the Bible (New York: Armstrong and Son, 1909) 127; A. T. Robertson, 
Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, Broadman, 1930), 2. 285; F. W. 
Farrar, The Gospel According to St. Luke in the Cambridge Greek Testament for 
Schools and Colleges (London: Cambridge University, 1889) 392; A. Plummer, Luke 
(ICC; New York: Scribners, 1913) 530; Marshall, Luke. 867. 


persecute you ..." (Matt 5:44).^ The preposition unep ("for") has the 
root idea of "over," which easily becomes "in behalf of," and ulti- 
mately carries the concept of "for the benefit of."^ Thus the implication 
seems to be that the prayer is to be for the benefit of the persecutor in 
some way. Certainly the greatest possible benefit to any enemy would 
be his eternal salvation, but this is only implicit. 

Likewise, Paul advocated that prayers be offered up ". . . on be- 
half of all men, for kings and all who are in authority . . ." (1 Tim 2: 1, 
2). However, the immediate reason for such prayers is ". . . in order 
that we might lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and 
dignity" (2 Tim 1:2). Hence, Paul requests prayer for governmental 
authorities so that they will not interfere with the free working of the 
church. The ultimate reason is because God ". . . desires all men to be 
saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). Thus, 
prayer for the salvation of governmental officials is at best only indi- 
rectly implied. However, in neither instance is the command to pray 
for the salvation of the unsaved direct and explicit. "* 

The closest that the NT comes to explicit and direct prayer for 
the salvation of the lost is Paul's cry, "Brethren, my heart's desire and 
prayer to God for them is for their salvation" (Rom 10:1). While this 
is an explicit and direct prayer for salvation, it may be understood as 
a prayer for the salvation of the nation of Israel as a whole^ rather 
than for the salvation of individual Jews. But a more important ques- 
tion is why there is only one clear example of explicit and direct 
prayer for the salvation of the lost in the entire NT. Is it because 
Christ and Paul did not care about the salvation of lost souls? No one 
even casually perusing the NT could arrive at such a conclusion. 
Rather, Christ wept over the lostness of men and Paul remained 
zealous for evangelism throughout his life. 

Christ's teaching on prayer for evangelism 

The NT instruction concerning the relationship of prayer to evan- 
gelism is unusual in comparison to contemporary practices. In view 

"All Scripture quotations are from the NASB. 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1943) 630. 
"The same could be said of John 17:21. 

The petition pertains to ujiEp autcov ("for them"). It is a reference to Israel in 
9:31. The term'Iapar|>L as used in this context clearly refers to the nation as a unit 
rather than to individual Jews. Indeed, Paul acknowledged that individual Jews are 
being saved, but the nation as a whole was refusing the righteousness provided by God 
in Jesus Christ (Rom 9:30-33). It was the nation as a whole that had a zeal for God 
that was not based on knowledge (10:2-4). Thus, when Paul prayed for Israel to be 
saved, it was not individual but national salvation that seems to be in view. See Barrett, 
p. 196. 


of an obvious need for evangelism (". . . the harvest is plentiful ..." 
[Matt 9:37, cf. Luke 10:2]), Christ commanded prayer ("Therefore 
beseech the Lord of the harvest . . ." [Matt 9:38]). The word used for 
prayer (58Ti9T|Te, "beseech") connotes the idea of petition that gives 
special prominence to the expression of need.^ The sense of need that 
is latent in the meaning of Seonai is enhanced by the use of the aorist 
imperative 5erj0r|T£. Thus, the Lord commands prayer for laborers 
with a sense of urgent need. 

The conjunction otkhc, ("therefore") introduces a clause that desig- 
nates either content or intent. After verbs of praying, entreating, 
asking, or exhorting, oncog is used with the subjunctive to denote 
what one wishes to accomplish. For the onvx; clause to give the 
purpose of the prayer in which it is found is linguistically possible;* 
that such is the case in Matt 9:38 is theologically probable. Whatever 
the precise words of the prayer might have been, its purpose was to 
gain an increase in the labor force. 

Jesus commanded his disciples to pray for the Lord of harvest 
". . . to send out workers. ..." The verb ^KpdX,ri ("send out") is a 
strong word meaning, "thrust out, force them out, as from urgent 
necessity."^ Some would render it even in stronger terms such as, "to 
drive out, to push out, to draw out with violence or without. "'° This 
word is a second aorist subjunctive. Hence the translation, "may send 
out" preserves the force of the subjunctive in a clearer manner. 

The strong prayer command SeiiGriTe ("beseech") in the aorist 
imperative indicates that in some manner earnest petition is necessary 
to reap the harvest successfully. God decrees the means as well as the 
ends, and one of the means is prayer. Lenski astutely comments: "The 
wonder will always remain that God, the primal cause, uses us and 
our prayers, the secondary causes, and does not discard them. . . . 
What a blessed relation between the workers in the harvest and the 
Lord of the harvest."" 

Amazingly, the Lord did not instruct prayer for the harvest, but 
for the thrusting forth of harvesters. In the face of an obvious need 
for evangelism, he did not command prayer for the sinners but for the 

J. H. Thayer, A Greek- English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & 
T. Clark, 1901) 126; G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament 
(Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1960) 91. 
'j. H. Thayer Lexicon, 450. 
*BAG, 580; cf. also LSJ, 1244. 

M. R. Vincent, IVord Studies in the New Testament (4 vols.; Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1965), 1. 57. 

'"Robertson, Word Pictures, I. 76. 
R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Matthew's Goipe/ (Columbus: Wart- 
burg, 1943) 386. 


saints. Reflection on current practices of prayer reveals how far afield 
it is from the NT teaching on prayer. Yet, Christ explicitly and defi- 
nitely taught that prayer should be offered for laborers for the harvest, 
but never explicitly or definitely taught or practiced that prayer should 
be offered for the unsaved. 


Paul advocated that Christians pray for harvesters in connection 
with evangelistic need. When Paul found himself in prison with possi- 
bilities for evangelism on every side, he wrote to believers in local 
churches requesting prayer (Eph 6:19, 20; Col 4:3). Both passages are 
similar in content and give valuable insight into the nature of prayer 
for harvesters. 

Instead of sending the churches a list of names and requesting 
prayer for the salvation of those individuals, Paul said, "Pray on my 
behalf. . ." (Eph 6:19; cf. Col 4:3). Paul prescribed prayer for the 
harvester rather than the harvest; for the saint rather than the sinner. 
The request for himself was a plea for his effectiveness in witnessing 
to the unsaved. Indeed, these passages can be seen as explanations of 
Christ's command to pray for the thrusting forth of laborers into the 
harvest fields. 


On one occasion, Paul said pray ". . . that God may open up to 
us a door for the word" (Col 4:3). His concern was not so much for 
comfort for his body, but for opportunity to speak. He was concerned 
about opportunity to witness. Biblically, it is God's responsibility to 
open doors of opportunity (Rev 3:7). Realizing that it is God who 
opens doors, Paul requested prayer to this end. The word iva ("that") 
introduces the purpose clause. In this instance the opening of a door 
of utterance was to be the subject of prayer, and they were to pray in 
order that such an opportunity might be granted.'^ The aorist sub- 
junctive dvoi^T) ("may open") is ingressive and carries the idea, "might 
begin to open." Paul requested that they pray that God would provide 
opportunities, "a door," for witnessing.'^ Paul did not force oppor- 
tunities, but rather, through prayer, he depended on God to provide 

J. Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Colossians (reprint; Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1957) 275; cf. also J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistles to the 
Colossians and to Philemon (New York: MacMillan, 1879) 137, 231. 

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians. to 
the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon (Columbus: Wartburg, 1943) 


opportunities. Thus, prayer for the harvesters involves praying that 
the saints will be given opportunities to witness. 


Twice in his request for prayer in view of an opportunity to 
witness, Paul requested 7tappr|oia ("boldness") (Eph 6:19, 20). In 
both phrases the apostle used the noun and verb forms of the same 
word. It has the root idea of "free speech," speech which is open and 
bold.'" Fear hinders freedom in proclaiming Christ. Hence, Paul de- 
sired that the gospel be made "known with boldness" (Eph 6:19). 
Grammatically, the verb yvoopiaai ("make known") carries the idea 
"to actually make it known. "'^ The fear of man brings a snare (Prov 
29:15). It is possible to witness and yet to be inhibited by fear to such 
a degree that the presentation is blurred and ineffective. Paul requested 
prayer that this might not happen. He wanted to be able to have 
freedom to set it forth courageously without the compelling restraint 
of fear.'^ Paul considered intercessory prayer an important factor in 
this type of witnessing. Prayer which is rightly oriented involves pray- 
ing that the laborers will be given boldness to utilize their opportuni- 
ties for witness. 


Paul urged his readers to pray ". . . that utterance may be given 
to me" (Eph 6:19). The term "utterance" refers to the faculty of 
speech.'^ It was not the ordinary word used to describe preaching, but 
rather to describe the elucidation of a message to make sure it is 
understood.'^ Paul wanted a message; he wanted to proclaim the 
good news of Christ effectively with words. Perhaps Paul was not a 
great orator by nature; he admitted that he was ". . . unskilled in 
speech" (2 Cor 1 1:6). The passive 5o0fi ("be given") indicates that the 
apostle looked to God for the message.'^ Paul believed that effective 
witnessing must be initiated by God. It requires God working through 
him. Hence, Paul urged Christians to pray that God would grant him 

J. Eadie, Commentary on the Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians (Edinburgh: 
T. &. T. Clark, 1883) 237, cf. 479. 

R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of St. Paul's Epistles to the Galatians, to the 
Ephesians and to the Philippians (Columbus: Wartburg, 1943) 679. 

J. Eadie, Ephesians, 478. 

T. K. Abbott, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the 
Ephesians and to the Colossians (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1897) 189. 

C. L. Mitton, Ephesians (NCB; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973) 229. 

J. Eadie, Ephesians, 479. 


proper wording in his witnessing. That Paul should solicit prayer in 
this matter shows the awareness he had of both the difficulty and 
importance of the task. 

Because the message to be presented is ". . . the mystery of the 
Gospel" (Eph 6:19, cf. "mystery of Christ" Col 4:3), divine assistance 
would be needed in both its proclamation and its comprehension. The 
term nuaxTJpiov ("mystery") is a truth that is sovereignly withheld by 
God and then revealed to man at a given point in history. ^° Paul 
stated in Ephesians 3 that a "mystery" had been revealed to him by 
direct revelation from God (Eph 3:3). Because they are of divine 
origin, the truths are beyond the orbit of all human anticipations. 
They are things that ". . . eye has not seen and ear has not heard ..." 
(1 Cor 2:9). Hence the presentation of the gospel needs to be given 
with divine clarity if men are to comprehend it. Prayer is needed if 
this type of clarity is to be achieved. 

Paul requested the believers at Ephesus to pray not only that he 
might present the message boldly, but also ". . . as I ought to speak" 
(Eph 6:20). Similarly, he requested the Colossian believers to pray 
". . . that I may make it clear in the way 1 ought to speak" (Col 4:4). 
In both intances, Paul was making an appeal for clarity in presenta- 
tion. This implies that the kind of clarity that Paul sought was beyond 
the realm of human ability. Thus, God must not only supply the 
utterance, but the clarity as well and prayer secures divine assistance. 


All would agree that prayer is crucial in effective evangelism, but 
prayer as it relates to evangelism has traditionally taken the form of 
prayer for the harvest. It has consisted of pleas to God to soften the 
hearts of sinners and to save them. While such prayer is not con- 
demned in the NT, it certainly is not clearly and explicitly set forth 
(although Rom 10:1 is a possible exception). Rather, Christ com- 
manded prayer for harvesters rather than prayer for the harvest. He 
taught that prayer should concern saints rather than sinners in connec- 
tion with the need for evangelism. 

Furthermore, Paul practiced exactly what Christ advocated. In 
the face of a need for evangelism, Paul requested prayer for harvesters. 
He prayed that the harvesters be given opportunities to witness, bold- 
ness as they witness, and clarity in the presentation of the message 
while witnessing. This explains what is involved in praying ". . . the 
Lord of harvest to send out workers into his harvest" (Matt 9:38). 

Therefore, both Christ and Paul prayed little for the unsaved 
world directly. Instead, they concentrated their prayer efforts on the 



edification of the saints. As the saints are built up and thrust forth 
into the harvest, evangelism inevitably takes place. However, it is 
never wrong to cry out directly to God for the salvation of a loved 
one. Indeed, it would almost be sub-human not to do so. We are 
instructed to ask for "anything" (John 14:14) and this certainly in- 
cludes the salvation of a loved one. In fact, there is the distinct 
possibility that Paul prayed for the lost on one occasion (Rom 10:1). 
But it is more in harmony with the NT to pray that God would thrust 
forth Spirit-filled believers across the path of that loved one, and that 
Christians would be built up and equipped for witness. Such an ap- 
proach comes closer to the NT instructions concerning prayer as it 
relates to evangelism. 


How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding the 
Bible, by Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 
I98I. Pp. 237. $6.95. Paper. 

Judging from recent publications, things are taking a turn for the better 
in hermeneutic texts. Older texts (Terry, Ramm, Mickelsen, etc.) offered a 
system of rules with very little in the way of practical suggestions for specific 
texts. H. Virkler attempted with much success to bridge the gap between 
theory and practice in Hermeneutics: Principles and Processes of Biblical 
Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981).' Two other recent texts go 
further in this direction by scrapping the "principles"-oriented approach. 
Instead, these texts organize their material along the lines of the various 
literary genres in the Bible. The two texts are the one under review here and 
The Literature and Meaning of Scripture (ed. M. A. Inch and C. H. Bullock; 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981). 

Fee and Stuart's book is a delight to read. Both men teach at Gordon- 
Conwell Theological Seminary — Fee in NT and Stuart in OT. They write 
clearly, concisely, and frankly. Their honesty and frankness shines through 
repeatedly (e.g., pp. 60, 67, 79, 95, 102, 106, 205-6). They are not afraid to 
point out the mistakes of others nor to admit their own fallibility. The abun- 
dance of biblical examples heightens the reader's undertanding and interest. 
When there is room for doubt or disagreement, it is usually acknowledged. 

As previously mentioned, the format of the book follows the various 
literary genres of the Bible. This is an extremely profitable approach, since 
our idea of the "whole" we are interpreting so greatly influences our ideas of 
the parts of that whole. Understanding genre is a foundational step in herme- 
neutics. Accordingly, the authors devote eleven of the thirteen chapters to the 
various types of literature in the Bible. There are two chapters on NT epistles. 
Here context is emphasized. Next the proper use of OT narrative literature is 
explained. The book of Acts serves as a basis for a stimulating study of how 
historical precedent and normative function interrelate. Following this there 
are chapters devoted to the gospels, the parables, the OT law sections, the 
prophets, the psalms, wisdom literature, and the book of Revelation. The 
book concludes with a helpful appendix on the use and evaluation of com- 
mentaries and Scripture and name indexes. All of this is well-written and 
should be fairly easy for most "lay people" to follow. The authors excel in 
concise summarization throughout. My favorite sections are the ones which 
deal with application, including the problem of discerning what is universally 
normative and what is culturally restricted (pp. 57-71, 96-102. 132-34). 
Although some will not agree with the authors's view that footwashing is not 
normative (p. 66), and that Paul's prohibition of women teaching is merely a 

'See G77 3 ( 1982): 142-43 for a review. 


local restriction (pp. 66-69), all will better understand the issues by reading 
the book. 

I do have some reservations about this book. The section entitled "The 
Question of Text" (pp. 31-34) is decidedly slanted toward the Alexandrian 
text-type. Zane Hodges's view that the Byzantine text is primary is ignored, 
as is Harry Sturz's view that the Byzantine text deserves an independent 
status and a chance to be heard. All of this is ignored, brushed off by the 
unproven assertion that "the better external evidence is preserved in Egypt" 
(p. 32). I would not expect the authors to enter into a major discussion of 
these matters, but 1 would expect less dogmatism and at least an admission 
that other views exist. On a related matter, it also seems that the differences 
between the KJV and the more modern translations are blown out of propor- 
tion (p. 34). Also, the NIV is given almost unqualified support over the 
NASB, which is nearly dismissed. For study purposes, I would prefer the 
literal NASB over the dynamically equivalent NIV. A literal translation 
should be the primary, not a secondary source (against p. 36) in Bible study. 

Aside from this textual issue there is an important hermeneutical one in 
the section on "Prophecy and Second Meanings" (pp. 164-67). Disturbingly, 
the use of Hos 11:1 in Matt 2:15 is used to support a sort oi sensus plenior 
(fuller meaning) theory in which Matthew totally disregards the original con- 
text and assigns a whole new meaning to Hosea's words. Inspiration sup- 
posedly gives Matthew the authority and insight to do this, but in my opinion 
such a view is damaging to inspiration. If it is wrong for God's people to twist 
the original meaning of Scripture, how can it be right for God himself to do it 
in inspiration? The very typological principles which the authors deny here 
are immensely preferable to the view that they advocate. Inspiration cannot 
be used as an excuse for mishandling the text. Rather, inspiration guarantees 
that the typological correspondence which the NT writers see is really there. 

A few other minor points could be mentioned briefly. The chapter on 
interpreting the gospels says very little about the fact that Matthew and John 
were eyewitnesses of the events they describe. Even Mark and Luke evidently 
were associated with eyewitnesses. This should be kept in mind when evalu- 
ating the degree of literary interdependence exhibited in the gospels (pp. 1 10- 
12). In another area, it appears that the structure of Psalm 138 does not 
totally square with the model given for thanksgiving psalms (reversal of 
deliverance and testimony, pp. 180-81). Finally, in a few places the authors 
uncautiously recommend some rather liberal works (pp. 106, 221-24). In a 
book written for theologically unsophisticated readers, more than a brief 
warning (p. 221) is needed. Some of the commentaries recommended also 
appear to be too scholarly for the untrained reader (pp. 221-24). 

These and other problems aside, however, one cannot help but highly 
recommend this book. Its format, lucid style, and practicality are its strong 
points. Pastors could use this book as a refresher course in hermeneutics. 
They could also use it in training Bible teachers in the churches. The book 
should also be considered by college and seminary teachers as a textbook for 
basic classes. The book is well worth its price. There is no doubt it will help 
the believer read the Bible for all its inestimable worth. 

David L. Turner 


The Word Becoming Flesh: An Introduction to the Origin, Purpose, and 
Meaning of the Old Testament, by Horace D. Hummel. St. Louis: Concordia, 
1979. Pp. 679. $20.95. 

This volume represents a unique contribution to the genre of OT 
Introduction books. They are usually characterized by an encyclopedic 
smorgasbord of the modern melange that is so characteristic of the con- 
temporary scholarly diet. As such they are often delightful tools which are 
rarely of any concrete use to those who don't play the game. On the other 
hand, there are those works by conservatives which have sought to interact 
with the former genre by, gently or otherwise, showing the errors of the 
critical works. The present volume has attempted to introduce a new approach 
into the field of Introduction. 

Hummel has sought to contrast his work with others through the use of 
the word EinfUhrung rather than Einleitung. By this he means that ". . . the 
former implies something more than mere questing after date, authorship, 
etc. It indicates some attempt also to convey some of the theological depth 
and direction of the contents. Thus, it moves perceptibly in the direction of 
not only exegesis, but also of 'Biblical theology'" (p. 12). It is this feature 
which has made Hummel's book somewhat unusual in the field. 

Hummel has characterized his methodology by reviving the term "isa- 
gogics," which historically concerned itself with "questions of date, author- 
ship, occasion, and purpose of writing" (p. 11). This approach has been 
expanded, however, to include ". . . the method of a sort of a running 
commentary of at least the highlights of the book, accenting isagogical 
matters as we try to state and reject typical critical positions and try to 
indicate the conservative alternative" (p. 15). This, then, is the heart of his 
methodology. As such he has combined certain features of the classical OTl 
genre, Bible survey, and biblical theology. Insofar as he is granted the right to 
pursue such a merger, his work may be termed a success. 

Hummel knows, however, that he is not likely to be allowed this 
endeavor. He anticipates, for example, that the critics will score him for his 
"negativism" (p. 15). This is in spite of the fact that, for the most part, he has 
provided conservative alternatives to destructive critical attacks on Scripture. 
His attitude throughout the book is comparatively irenic. He appears able to 
interact on a more scholarly level with less true negativism than those who 
have reviewed the work.' In short, it appears that Hummel is far more aware 
of the nuances of liberalism than the liberals are aware of the conservative 
responses to their challenges. Often their responses seem to be little more 
than argumentum ad hominem rather than ad rem. At times, Hummel himself 

'See especially the review of Ralph Smith in SWJT22> (1981) 99, who writes, "This 
book is an example of what a binding credal statement can do to biblical scholarship. 
This is a warped exposition of this discipline and if such scholarship continues long 
under the domination of the church's creed, it will become more narrow and harsh." In 
fact, there is very little evidence of Lutheran credalism anywhere in the book. The issue 
for Hummel is inerrancy, which is a matter of faith and presuppositionalism, not 


seems to indulge in that when he disparages "fundamental literalism" (p. 280) 
in its insistence on a literal interpretation of Ezekiel 40-48. Perhaps there is a 
distinction between "fundamental literalism" and, say, "liberal literalism" that 
this reviewer has somehow missed. 

There is so much in this book that is superb that it is hard to know 
where to begin. Perhaps the greatest strength of the work is his understanding 
of the essential unity of the two testaments (see especially pp. 62-63, 347-48). 
In short, he is not just a man skilled in the discipline of form criticism, text 
criticism, or historiography; rather, he is these as well as a superb theologian. 

His skills as a text critic may be seen in his sound analysis of the Hebrew 
text which usually is found within each book discussion. His awareness of the 
discipline of "higher criticism" represents the highest professional standards. 
For example, his introduction to higher criticism (pp. 19-31) is, in my 
opinion, the best succinct treatment available. So devastating is his analysis 
of the weaknesses of higher criticism that one reviewer, rather hysterically, 
has claimed that ". . . he has returned to the pre-Gabler days, before 1787, 
when Biblical theology was captive to Dogmatic theology."^ This is neither 
fair nor accurate. Hummel's guidelines are not drawn by creed or dogmatics. 
Quite simply, the guidelines for Hummel's work are stated on p. 13: "The 
Bible is [his emphasis] the Word of God," and "the canonical books are 
verbally inspired and inerrant." 

Another feature of the book which makes it so useful is that Hummel 
(unlike some theologians) has a realistic perspective on the historiography. 
This is best reflected in his handling of the book of Judges and the 
monarchical period. In addition, his discussion on pp. 151-53 concerning the 
difficulties of exact chronology for the Israelite monarchy provides a mar- 
velous introduction to the problems. 

One last subject area of the book that 1 found enjoyable is the chapter on 
Wisdom. Once again Hummel demonstrates that the topic is neither irrelevant 
nor arcane. This is best demonstrated in the following quotation: "The real 
and ultimate 'uniqueness' of Biblical (and Christian) ethics is not in external 
behavior patterns . . . but in the theological context, motivations, or goals" 
(p. 397). 

In spite of these "bouquets" I must, nonetheless, take issue with one 
specific and important area. At the heart of his system is the typological 
hermeneutic. To be sure, his use of typology must not be compared with 
earlier interpreters, whose efforts at finding the preincarnate Christ are not 
dissimilar to talmudic methods. Nonetheless, 1 had the distinct impression 
that no actual guidelines for the typological approach were ever established. 
In short, the book represents a personal tour de force in applied Christology. 
The following quotation perhaps best exemplifies that philosophy: 

That is to say that Old Testament history really is our [his emphasis] history via 
Christ, h too was accomplished "for us men and for our salvation," and into it 

^Ibid. For a more balanced, less pejorative perspective, see the review of Peter 
Craigie, JBL 100 (1981) 106-7, where he raises some legitimate criticisms not mentioned 
in this review. 


too we were baptized. Since Christ is "Israel reduced to one," and since Israel's 
inner history was all recapitulated and consummated in Him, the 'new Israel,' 
the Church, expresses its identity and mission in terms of the promise given the 
old Israel. The difference between the testaments is not ultimately theological at 
all, but basically only that the first Israel was both [his emphasis] "church" and 
state, while in the age of the antitype or fulfillment the political (and accom- 
panying ceremonial) scaffolding falls away (p. 17). 

There is, of course, much with which the dispensationalist (and non- 
dispensationalist) can agree in that statement. The problem, however, is that 
he never really estabHshes the mechanics for knowing precisely when we have 
a type. He is fully aware of the need for "one literal sense" (p. 458), yet 
throughout the book expands his interpretations to types that are not said to 
be types. In the case of Canticles his methodology may be seen in the 
statement: "Whatever language is used, the unity [his emphasis] of the 
various levels of meaning must be accented. It will not be a matter of a 
multiple or even a double sense, but of varied aspects of the unus sensus 
literalis" (p. 504). It seems obvious that there is at least opportunity for some 
continued discussion on this typological approach. 

The book is not without spelling errors (pp. 178, 379, but note especially 
the humorous misspelling on p. 48: "it is worth nothing [sic] that von Rad 
proposed . . ."). I suspect that there is an error on p. 123 where he has 
outlined 1 Samuel 8-15 as "Samuel and David," which should probably be 
"Samuel and Saul." On p. 130, "2 Chron 17" should be "2 Chron 7," while 
"gives" should be "give." On p. 490 there is a split infinitive and on p. 541, 
"The major exception in many critical eyes are 9:20-10:3 . . ." should read "is 

There are certainly other things which might be said about the book, 
including the author's good sense of humor (pp. 289, 315, 513). There are 
some excellent indexes which greatly enhance the usability of the volume as 
well. I feel that this work, especially for pastors, will remain one of the 
premier introductions to the OT. In one volume, Hummel has combined the 
best features of survey, history, and theology. 

Donald L. Fowler 

Aalders, G. Ch. Genesis. 2 vols. Pp. 31 1; 298. $24.95. Gispen, W. H. Exodus. 
Pp. 335. $15.95. Noordtzij, A. Leviticus. Pp. 280. $13.95. Noordtzij, A. 
Numbers. Pp. 384. $16.95. The Bible Student's Commentary. Grand Rapids: 
Zondervan, 1981-83. 

Since the 1930s the commentary set Korte Verklaring der Heilige Schrift 
has been a mainstay for Christian European students of the Word. With the 
publication of Aalders's commentary on Genesis in 1981. Zondervan has 
launched an ambitious goal of translating the Dutch commentary into English. 
The publishers are to be commended warmly for this service. While these 
various volumes do not stand as the very best commentaries on each book, 
they do represent a fine level of scholarship and should be found in every 
serious minister's library. 


Most of the series originally was published in the 1930s and 1940s, 
although there has been some attempt to update them into the 1960s. The 
series was originally intended for that ubiquitous audience, the lay reader. In 
that sense it can be read and understood by anyone. Its scholarship, however, 
is such that it can be read profitably by scholars as well. It is thoroughly 
conservative, representing the best of continental Reformed scholarship. The 
translational work is skillfully done, resulting in a readable, lucid style. Its 
value is enhanced by using the NIV as its commentary base. I am happy to 
recommend it to the readership of this journal. 

Donald L. Fowler 

Leviticus: An Introduction and Commentary, by R. K. Harrison. The Tyndale 
Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: Inter Varsity, 1980. Pp. 252. 
Cloth $10.95. Paper $5.95. 

The remark by Qoheleth "the writing of many books is endless" (Qoh 
12:12 NASB) is, in many ways, truly applicable in our days. Such, however, 
has not been the case in relation to evangelical scholars and the book of 
Leviticus. The fact that Leviticus is one of the most difficult books for Chris- 
tians in our age and culture to understand, appreciate, and apply to the needs 
of the church makes the previous lack of attention to it all the more lament- 

The evangelical church now has two fine commentaries upon which to 
rely for help in understanding this fascinating OT book: Gordon J. Wenham's 
book in the NICOT series (see the review by D. L. Fowler in GTJ 1 [1980] 
101-3) and this commentary by R. K. Harrison. Both writers have been 
careful to treat the text with the integrity and realism that are required in an 
exegetical/ expository commentary. 

Harrison's book contains an introduction, a verse by verse commentary, 
and two appendices — Appendix A is a rendering of Leviticus 13 into semi- 
technical English and Appendix B is a discussion of sex and its theology. A 
balance between the detailed exegesis of the book of Leviticus and its applica- 
tion to the church is maintained with admirable success throughout the book. 
Some of his applications may be questionable, but he does not fall prey to the 
kind of typological interpretation which overlooks the actual meaning of the 
text in its historical and cultural context. 

The introduction to this commentary is interesting for a number of 
reasons. Harrison has manifested previously (see his Introduction to the OT) 
that he is particularly adept at handling liberal higher critical theories of the 
authorship, date, composition, and unity of OT books. This expertise is also 
apparent here as he attacks such theories with arguments derived from ancient 
Near Eastern studies. He takes Lev 7:37-38 as a colophon for 1:1-7:36 much 
in the same manner as he sees the recurrent phrase "these are the generations 
of" in Gen 1:1-37:2 as marking colophons therein (see pp. 15, 25, 84-88). 
Thus, he sees the ancient (Mosaic) form of composition reflected in the 
present text which in turn is taken as an argument against the source critical 
and tradition critical approaches to the material. This approach to the Genesis 


divisions has been disputed, but his general approach to introductory issues is 
undoubtedly of great value. For example, he cites the early date of other 
ancient Near Eastern priestly type materials as militating against the Well- 
hausenist source critical theory of the relatively late development of the "P" 
material in the OT (pp. 18-20, 23-24). Yet he does not stop there. He argues 
further against tradition criticism, which sees a relatively long oral tradition 
prior to the writing down of these traditions, by pointing out that the norm in 
the ancient Near East was the simultaneous promulgation of written and oral 
versions of important occurrences (pp. 20-21). 

Harrison's introduction also includes sections on the purpose of the 
book, the theology of Leviticus, Leviticus and the NT, and the Hebrew text. 
It is in the section on the purpose of the book that he deals with the views of 
Mary Douglas concerning Leviticus 11-15. She is a social anthropologist 
whose basic contention is (as Harrison puts it) "that rituals of purity and 
impurity produce unity in experience, a holistic concept closely akin to the 
ancient Near Eastern tradition of the pairing of opposites to describe totality" 
(p. 28). Thus, "since holiness requires individuals to conform to the class to 
which they belong, the animals that do not exhibit the specified forms of 
locomotion, namely flying, walking, swimming and running, are unclean" 
(p. 28). Harrison disagrees with this structural anthropological approach to 
Leviticus 11-15 and prefers (against Wenham) to see these regulations as 
basically hygienic (pp. 28-29, 120ff.). His longstanding preoccupation with 
dietary, hygienic, and medical concerns in the Bible (witness his articles in 
Bible dictionaries etc.) may well have influenced his judgment on this matter. 

A number of other remarks and positions in this commentary can be 
questioned seriously. For example, Harrison continues with his medically and 
hygienically oriented interpretations of dietary regulations by applying such 
concerns to the prohibitions against eating fat and blood (pp. 58, 82, 178). He 
does this although he is aware that fat was seen to be the Lord's portion 
because it was the choice portion (Deut 32:14, etc.) and blood was to go to 
the Lord because of its identification with the life of the victim (Lev 17:11, 

A most perplexing omission in the book is the lack of any explicit 
reference to the major work of Jacob Milgrom (Cult and Conscience: The 
'Asham' and the Priestly Doctrine of Repentance, 1976). Some of his remarks 
on the sin offering and the guilt offering lead me to believe, however, that he 
is familiar with Milgrom's work. Yet, at certain pivotal points he ignores him 
(see especially his discussion of 6:1-7). Even in such a small volume it would 
have been useful to find a more thorough interaction with Milgrom much like 
that which is found in regard to Douglas (see above). Related to this, in 
discussing the types of sin for which the OT sacrifices were efficacious as 
opposed to that of Christ, Harrison writes, "there is no ritual here or elsewhere 
in the Pentateuch to cover the sins of deliberate and conscious rebellion 
against God, expressed in such acts as adultery, idolatry, murder or blas- 
phemy. . . . Had the levitical sacrificial system covered every form of sin and 
catered for all possible contingencies of transgression, there could have been 
no room for the work of Christ, since under such conditions it would have 
been unnecessary" (p. 68; see similarly pp. 88, 173, 219). No matter how one 


interprets "unwittingly" ("unintentionally," NASB) in 4:2 and regardless of 
how Num 15:30-31 is understood, this theological construct is certainly 
unfounded. Harrison might have at least interacted with the work of Milgrom 
and others on this matter especially since his understanding of the implications 
of these passages is one that is weak and vacillating (see pp. 60 and 173 and 
compare Milgrom, Cult and Conscience, p. 124). Beyond that, the OT sacri- 
fices, unlike that of Christ, were never intended to bring forgiveness unto 
eternal life. Rather, they were primarily meant to regulate worship and lifestyle 
of the nation Israel in relation to its theocratic king. Thus, they functioned on 
a different level and the statement made by Harrison does not reckon with 
that fact. Certainly the sacrifices could not deal with such sins as murder, 
adultery, etc. since this system was not just "religious" but also "civil." 

The attempt to attribute suzerainty treaty form to Leviticus 18 (note the 
misprint of "14" for "18" on p. 183) is not convincing. The same can be said 
for his application of Gen 15:10 to Lev 1:6 (p. 46), as well as his contention 
that the guilt offering was not expiatory in nature when used in the cleansing 
of the leper (p. 151). Harrison's understanding of kipper ("to make atone- 
ment") is confusing (pp. 66-67). He thinks that sometimes it means "to wipe 
clean" while at other times it means "to cover." He should have held to the 
former and excluded the latter. 

Despite the weaknesses of this commentary, its value is not to be dimin- 
ished. His handling of the issues surrounding leaven (pp. 54-55), the puri- 
ficatory nature of the sin offering (p. 61), leprosy (pp. 136-39), and sex 
(pp. 248-52) is masterful. Furthermore, he has done a marvelous job of 
weaving helpful and relevant references to the ancient Near East into his 
discussions (pp. 41-42, 45, 215, 228-29, etc.). 

This is a fine commentary and is especially suitable for Bible students 
without background in Hebrew and ancient Near Eastern studies. For more 
advanced readers Wenham's commentary is preferred, but Harrison's should 
not be ignored. Harrison has given us yet another fine tool for our exegesis 
and exposition of the OT. He is to be congratulated. 

Richard E. Averbeck 

The Book of Jeremiah, by J. A. Thompson. The New International Com- 
mentary on the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980. Pp. xii + 
819. $22.50 

Completion of a commentary on the book of Jeremiah is a noteworthy 
accomplishment on at least two counts. The Bible commentary is a difficult 
medium through which to communicate hermeneutical data about a biblical 
book. The writer of the commentary is faced with difficulties resulting from a 
broadly scattered spectrum of readers, the realities about publishing and 
marketing, the management and implementation of a vast number of sources 
of information, etc. Added to these difficulties are those attending the inter- 
pretation of the Jeremiah material (the text and its composition and struc- 
ture). And there are the interpretive challenges occasioned by the book's 


particularly prominent presentations such as the audience quotations and 
reactions and the notations about pseudoprophets. 

The question, then, is: How well does Thompson's commentary meet all 
of these interpretive challenges? 1 wish to answer this question by arranging 
my remarks according to the two major points Thompson discusses in his 
book, "Introduction" (pp. 1-136) and "Text and Commentary" (pp. 137- 
784). His introduction to the book is extensive and generally provides a good 
survey of the salient topics requiring attention. The discussion covers typical 
introductory entries ("Jeremiah in His Historical Setting," pp. 9-26, and 
"The Life of Jeremiah," pp. 94-106, to name but two). Entries which require 
special attention in the case of the Jeremiah material are also included ("The 
Book of Jeremiah" [structure and composition], pp. 27-50, and "Some Impor- 
tant Issues For Exegesis" [Jeremiah and the cultus, symbolic actions, relation 
of the book to Hosea, etc.], pp. 50-94). One of the values of the introduction 
is that it puts together in one place a good compendium of these helpful 
pieces of information. 

But for all its extensiveness, the introduction is, I think, not without 
several weaknesses. Among the more bothersome is Thompson's failure to 
articulate clearly the method by which he handles the MT/LXX questions 
about the text of Jeremiah. He notes (p. 119) that the Qumran community 
had a longer and shorter form of the text available to them (cf. 4QJer'^ and 
4QJer^). However, while rightly acknowledging this fact, Thompson fails to 
articulate what evidence and procedure lead him to prefer a LXX reading 
here and a MT reading there. In the same way, while pointing out some, but 
not all, of the LXX omissions (p. 120), he nowhere spells out his underlying 
methodology. If we are to have a text to comment upon, we must have a 
carefully worked out discriminating principle for determining the text. And if 
we have one, it must be indicated. Added to this failure is the even more 
striking dislocation of the discussion on the text of Jeremiah. It is not even 
included under the heading "Some Important Issues for Exegesis." Surely the 
principles by which a given reading is discriminated is at the heart of exe- 
getical work. 

Furthermore, the introductory material provides little in the way of new 
material; it is principally an eclectic approach. But even in using this ap- 
proach, there is a failure to include in the introductory material a brief 
history of the Christian community's labor on the book. Thus, little attention 
is given to the antecedents of modern interpretive work. Legitimate contempo- 
rary exegetical work does not operate in isolation from a given book's history 
of interpretation. Thompson's work could have been enhanced by a clearer 
record of how this commentary interfaces with the church's previous inter- 
pretive work. Such an inclusion would have underscored the importance of 
the redeemed as community. 

Moreover, a remark must be made about the too brief and principally 
English bibliography (pp. 131-36). Even though the NICOT series is not 
targeted solely for a scholarly readership, one would expect a commentary of 
over 800 pages on such an important book as Jeremiah to contain a bibli- 
ography of more than these few pages and a disclaimer that those more 
serious students "will want to consult those works marked with an asterisk 


for additional extensive bibliography" (p. 131). Clearly the remainder of 
Thompson's commentary shows his awareness and control of far more ex- 
tensive materials (and those other than simply English works). A much 
more extensive bibliography would have been a service to the readers. Inclu- 
sion of such works as Karl-Ferdinand Pohlman, Studien zum Jeremiabuch 
(FRLANT). Winfried Thiel, Die deuteronomistische Redaktion von Jeremia 
1-25, Helga Weippert, Die Prosareden des Jeremiabuches (BZAW), H. J. 
Kraus, Prophetie in der Krisis, and H. W. Wolff, Das Zitat im Propheten- 
spruch would have been appropriate. Numerous articles might have been 
included. The following are but a sample of the wide variety of secondary 
sources that are available: P. R. Ackroyd, "The Temple Vessels — A Continuity 
Theme," Studies in the Religion of Ancient Israel (VTSup 22; Leiden: Brill, 
1972) 166-81; J. F. Craghan, "The ARM X 'Prophetic' Texts: Their Media, 
Style, and Structure," J AN ESC V 6 (1977) 39-57; and J. H. Hayes, "The 
Tradition of Zion's Inviolability," JBL 82 (1963) 419-26. And works such as 
C. E. Tilson's older dissertation (Vanderbilt, 1951), "False Prophets in the 
Old Testament," would also have provided interesting breadth to the bibli- 

The second major section of Thompson's work concerns the "Text, and 
Commentary" (pp. 137-784). Thompson offers a basically good translation 
and commentary. He provides the reader with a discussion of the ancient 
Near Eastern treaty background which is vital to understanding Jeremiah. 
Along the way he furnishes summaries of archaeological work which bear on 
the understanding of the material. Although the commentary is not replete 
with such, it does give brief discussions of cognate usages. The commentary is 
generally restrained in its assertions, judicious in its use of sources, and 
cautious in its conclusions — all marks of sensible scholarship. In spite of 
these and other good qualities, there are several areas where the text and 
commentary section evidences weakness. Whereas in the introduction Thomp- 
son discusses the message of Jeremiah (pp. 107-17) both to the prophet's own 
and to future generations, the commentary fails to provide reflection on how 
the post-587 b.c. era may have helped to shape the present arrangement of 
material in the book. The shaping process no doubt came about as attempts 
were made to apply the prophet's teachings to the needs of the exilic people. 
Both T. Raitt's 1977 work, A Theology of Exile, and R. Klein's 1979 work, 
Israel in Exile, address this issue. Discussion within the commentary at this 
level would have enabled the reader to interact more intelligently with the 
Jeremiah tradition. As the commentary stands, this lack tends to draw the 
Jeremiah material out of an ongoing tradition and to hamper an understand- 
ing of its ongoing relevancy. 

Furthermore, the quality of the commentary would have been enhanced 
by more interaction with rhetorical criticism as this has been applied to the 
Jeremiah corpus. For example, while Thompson does note the employment 
within the book of the rhetorical question (cf. pp. 189-90), there is little, if 
any, use made of this observation in his discussion at 2:14, 31; 3:5; 5:9, 29; 
8:4, 18-23; 9:8; 14:19-22; 23:23-24; 30:6; 31:20; etc. (cf. W. A. Brueggemann, 
"Jeremiah's Use of Rhetorical Questions," JBL 92 [1973] 358-74). When 
discussing the notations which refer to reactions to bad news (6:24; 49:23; 


50:43), Thompson's discussion does not reflect any awareness of the use made 
of this device as a literary convention (cf. the brief discussion of D. R. Hillers, 
"A Convention in Hebrew Literature: The Reaction to Bad News," ZA W 11 
[1965] 86-90) in the ancient Near East. The convention is used in Ugaritic 
literature in =nt 111 29-32, 5111 12-20, 1 Aqht 93-96, and 125, 53-54 (cf. 
C. Gordon's Ugaritic Textbook). And even in Jeremiah 2, while noting that 
"the whole chapter has strong reminiscences of a legal form" (p. 159), Thomp- 
son gives little presentation of the implementation and results of this impor- 
tant note. Further, literary analysis of how the eleven quotations within the 
chapter are employed in its form and rhetoric is left untouched (cf. T. W. 
Overholt, "Jeremiah 2 and the Problem of 'Audience Reaction,'" CBQ 91 
[1979] 262-73). 

In the light of these observations an answer can be given to the initial 
question of this review: How well does Thompson's commentary meet the 
challenges confronting the commentator on the Jeremiah material? The an- 
swer must be a guarded, "Fairly well." The commentary provides a good 
synthesis of material which will be easily accessible to the average reader. 
However, for serious students of Jeremiah there are several noteworthy weak- 
nesses. These weaknesses are not a reflection on Thompson's scholarship. 
They are a reflection, rather, on the weaknesses attending the medium of 
a Bible commentary, a medium with considerable limitations. Given this 
medium, Thompson's commentary is recommended and surely his love for 
Jeremiah provides a noteworthy example for other students of Jeremiah to 

Ronald E. Manahan 

Jewish Sects at the Time of Jesus, by Marcel Simon. Trans. James H. Farley. 
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1967, reprinted 1980. Pp. xii + 180. $5.95. Paper. 

This work is a translation of Les sectes juives au temps de Jesus, published 
by Presses universitaires de France in 1960. Thus the 1980 reprint comes 
twenty years after the book first appeared. Simon states that his method was 
to utilize the unpublished notes of the late Roger Goossens of the Free 
University of Brussels. There are six chapters, written in a nontechnical man- 
ner, concerning such matters as (1) definition of a Jewish sect, (2) the major 
and minor sects, (3) the Dead Sea Scrolls, (4) Alexandrian Judaism, and 
(5) influences on Christianity. The translation has been done quite well; the 
book reads smoothly and clearly. 

One of the strongest and most helpful sections of the book is its survey 
of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the identity of the inhabitants of Khirbet Qumran 
(pp. 47-84). Simon argues convincingly that the Qumran monastics fit into 
the general category of "Essenes." Other views of the matter are discussed 
and the problems of the Essene view are identified and answered (pp. 55-70). 
The chapter on Philo and Alexandrian Judaism was similarly helpful 
(pp. 108-30). The relationship between the Jewish sects and Christianity, 
handled in the last chapter (pp. 131-54), is portrayed judiciously and cau- 
tiously. Other strengths of the book are its footnotes which suggest further 


reading for beginning students and its short glossary (pp. 157-60) which 
briefly defines terms that are largely unintelligible to beginners. 

All of these features combine to make Simon's work a helpful introduc- 
tory study. However, two important weaknesses cripple its effectiveness. First, 
academically, the book was twenty years old when reprinted and is somewhat 
outdated. Instead of a mere reprint, a revision would have been in order. 
Second, theologically, the book makes no allowance for the claim of the NT 
to be special divine revelation. Although Christianity is viewed both in and 
against its Jewish sect environment, a supernatural perspective is totally lack- 
ing. Such a supernatural perspective, viewing Jesus Christ as God's unique 
Son and the gospels as inspired documents, would aid the author immensely. 
Inerrantists will not accept Simon's views that (1) the NT is prejudiced, not 
objective (pp. 23, 26-27, 30), (2) the rabbinical literature corrects the NT 
(p. 29), (3) the biblical authors "place" speeches in the mouths of Jesus and 
Stephen (pp. 29, 99), and (4) the synoptics contradict each other (p. 151). 
Although Simon speaks of "extremists" who deny the historical connections 
of Christian origins (pp. 143-44), he apparently is not aware that his own 
implicitly antisupernatural approach is also extremist, though at the other 
end of the theological spectrum. 

There are two typographical errors on p. 32 (indivdual) and p. 61 (in- 

David L. Turner 

The Acts of the Apostles, by 1. Howard Marshall. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1980. Pp. 427. $6.95. Paper. 

In recent years the publishers of the Tyndale New Testament Commen- 
taries have been replacing selected volumes with newer ones, representing 
changing needs and current scholarship. This volume by Marshall replaces 
the one by E. M. Blaiklock which is more than twenty years old. 

Three reasons, two stated and one implied, are indicated to justify these 
replacement volumes. Blaiklock's emphasis was to develop his commentary 
against the background of the Graeco-Roman period; it is essentially a "his- 
torical commentary" (p. 9). Marshall's efforts include an emphasis upon the 
theological substance and impact of Acts, making his work more comprehen- 
sive and complete. Marshall also states, as a second reason, his desire to 
interact with and react to the liberal scholarship in the commentary by 
E. Haenchen, whose work was published at the same time as Blaiklock's, but 
which has gone essentially unanswered by conservative scholarship (pp. 9, 35). 

Although of lesser importance, a third justification for these new volumes 
is the reading habits of Bible students. The earlier commentaries were based 
upon the Authorized and Revised Versions of the Bible. Today, in overwhelm- 
ing numbers. Christians are reading and studying from a variety of modern 
translations. So it was thought advantageous to produce commentaries which 
coincide with the need of Bible readers for the more recent translations. 

These volumes are advertised as "exegetical rather than homiletic" (p. 5), 
although the author intended that there be "sufficient pointers" for expository 


treatment of the text of Acts (p. 10). Moreover, according to Leon Morris, 
the general editor, "These books are written to help the nontechnical reader 
to understand his Bible better" (p. 5). While it is not the design of the 
commentary to deal at length with the many critical problems which arise in 
Acts, the volume is written with an obvious cognizance of the issues. The 
reader is always aware that Marshall has sufficient grasp of these matters to 
render scholarly judgment upon them. 

Perhaps the first virtue and improvement which the reader encounters in 
this newer commentary is the bibliographies (pp. 1 1-15), consisting of articles 
from scholarly theological journals as well as an impressive list of books by 
more than thirty recognized authors, representing a breadth of opinion. Con- 
sequently, the book is nicely documented throughout, especially in the chapter 
on introductory matters. 

To this reviewer, one of the chief values of Marshall's effort is his work 
in the introduction. It is here that the difference between Marshall and Blaik- 
lock is most easily demonstrated. The earlier volume by Blaiklock deals with 
some routine introductory matters such as the authorship and date, but its 
particular emphasis is almost exclusively upon the historical context and the 
world of Acts. Marshall adds valuable discussion on the purpose of Acts, 
summarizing that "what Acts does in effect is to show how the salvation 
which was manifested by Jesus during his earthly life in a limited area of the 
country and for a brief period became a reality for increasing numbers of 
people over a wide geographical area and during an extended period of time" 
(p. 20). 

Another highlight of the present volume is Marshall's synopsis of Luke's 
theology as expressed in Acts (pp. 23-34). In contradistinction to current 
existential thought that faith is independent of historical fact, Luke emphasizes 
that God's work in Acts is a continuation of the acts of God recorded in the 
OT and that Acts is a record of "all that Jesus began [emphasis mine] to do 
and teach." Faith is grounded in and intrinsically tied to historical fact and 
reality. Moreover, the theology of Acts is based upon the will and purpose of 
God, is the fulfillment of certain specific Scriptures, is manifested in the life 
of the early church, and is confirmed in the mighty signs done in the authority 
of Christ. 

Marshall is satisfied that the mission and message of Acts is summarized 
in Acts 1:8, and that the entire book is a rehearsal of the fulfillment of this 
prophetic message. Marshall's articulation of the gospel message, i.e.. that 
Jesus died and was raised from the dead and that only through him is the 
forgiveness of sins, is quite orthodox and Marshall remains faithful to this 
theological center-piece throughout his commentary. 

A third theological theme, as Marshall sees it. is Luke's concern with the 
opposition that surrounds the spread of the gospel. This opposition was 
consistent and harsh and was perpetuated by both officials and ordinary 
people, yet the gospel prevailed according to God's will as his people remained 
faithful to its message and its propagation. A fourth prominent theological 
theme in Acts is the inclusion of gentiles in the gospel program along with the 
increasing refusal by Jews to accept the gospel message. Marshall includes 
some excellent discussion on these matters. 


A final theological aspect of Acts is addressed in a helpful fashion by 
Marshall, it concerns the life and organization of the early church, including 
comments on the worship of the church, the role of the Holy Spirit, the first 
leadership (with special emphasis on Peter and Paul), and early missionary 
practices and styles. 

A most cogent and helpful section of Marshall's introductory remarks 
deals with more recent (19th-century) attempts by liberal scholarship to de- 
bunk the historicity of the Acts. Against the background of the efforts of the 
Tubingen school of criticism to assert that Acts is nothing more than an 
effort to gloss over severe Petrine and Pauline conflicts, Marshall rehearses 
the work of men like Sir William Ramsey and F. F. Bruce to re-establish and 
endorse the historical value of Acts. Rejoinders were filed among continental 
skeptics such as Dibelius, Conzelmann, and the individual of primary concern 
to Marshall, E. Haenchen. Marshall correctly laments that this skeptical 
viewpoint about Acts yet prevails. In a very succinct and credible fashion 
Marshall attempts to argue against this prevailing view. 

He does so by first surmising why such skepticism has arisen. Moreover, 
the author cites the research of A. D. Sherwin-White to establish that it can 
be demonstrated that Luke's portrayal of the Roman scene is indeed remark- 
ably accurate. Marshall's theological integrity is demonstrated in his discussion 
of the problem of sources for Luke's work. He acknowledges that the author 
of Acts was obviously dependent upon sources but also admits that these 
sources are not always clearly identifiable. Of course, the most natural under- 
standing of the so-called "we sections" suggest that for some of his material, 
Luke used his own eyewitness experiences as well. 

Another aspect of Marshall's work, one which is rarely addressed in 
commentaries on Acts, is Luke's use of and recording of the numerous 
"speeches" that appear in Acts. Critics have suggested that these speeches or 
sermons were the inventions of Luke, with no basis in historical fact. Our 
author makes several suggestions which place this issue in honest perspective: 

(1) since it takes only minutes to read these speeches, it is unlikely that the 
speeches were really that short, therein indicating Luke summarized them; 

(2) it is quite improbable that his audience remembered all that Jesus said, 
therefore suggesting that Luke depended upon summarized accounts which 
were passed to him; (3) in some places it is obvious that Luke did not intend 
to render a verbatim account, therefore indicating that he intended to write 
only the general sense of certain messages; and (4) there are obvious occasions 
when it was impossible for Luke to have known precisely what was said by 
given individuals (e.g., conversations in private apartments, 25:13-22; 26:30- 
32), thus requiring Luke either to express the kind of exchange which probably 
took place or to depend upon summaries recalled by participants or sym- 
pathizers. Marshall honestly concludes: "The effect of these comments is to 
show that Luke could and did compose appropriate remarks for his speakers. 
and that we do him an injustice if we expect from him verbatim accounts of 
each and every speech" (p. 42). 

Regarding Marshall's commentary on the text of Acts, the reader will 
find his work useful and reliably orthodox. One should not expect extensive 
comment on all the issues which arise in Acts, but the reader can expect 


scholarly, succinct, and cogent comments made in the context of full aware- 
ness of the exegetical issues and conundrums which will arise in biblical 

Throughout his commentary the author pays allegiance to the full his- 
toricity of the events recorded in Acts. His treatment of the filling of the Holy 
Spirit is traditional. He affirms that the phenomenon of tongues in Acts 2 
consisted of a mixture of both foreign languages and ecstatic speech. In spite 
of a rare vague comment (e.g., p. 1 15 and the use of the word "superstition" 
regarding Peter's healing in Acts 5:12-16), his view of the miraculous events 
in Acts is orthodox. 

Marshall's treatment of certain complex uses of OT prophetic passages 
(e.g., Joel 2:28-32 in Acts 2; "times of refreshing" and "period of restoration" 
in Acts 3) are unstrained and credible. Another example of the scholarship 
and style of Marshall and the Tyndale series is the treatment of the textual 
problems in Stephen's speech in Acts 7. The commentary reveals knowledge 
of the issues, but does not contain laborious discussion of them. The reader 
must follow the documentation and trace out that argumentation. Rather, 
Marshall provides brief value judgment responses to those cases and quickly 
proceeds to state his own case and rationale. 

This replacement volume in the Tyndale series is a much needed and 
important book. Marshall, who is Senior Lecturer in New Testament Exegesis 
at the University of Aberdeen in Scotland and noted author of several other 
excellent works (e.g., contributor to the NICNT and the NIGTC), has com- 
bined high scholarship with a lucid and succinct style. This commentary has 
been designed to attract a wide range of readers, it is theologically and 
exegetically sound and contains no major flaws. Perhaps this volume, along 
with the rest of the Tyndale series, could have been dressed up with maps and 
pictures of pertinent sites. These would help the reader to trace the comings 
and goings in Acts and to visualize the context more adequately. Of course, 
all of this would have added substantially to the cost of the series. In an age 
when many helpful atlases and other resources are available, the publishers 
apparently favored a more inexpensive series with the emphasis placed upon 
exegetical-theological content. Given the rising cost of books these days, this 
approach is thoughtful and appreciated by many. 

The Tyndale series, and this volume by Marshall in particular, is highly 

Skip Forbes 

New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Paul's Epistle to the Romans, by 
William Hendriksen. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980-81. Pp. ix + 533. $17.95. 

William Hendriksen was born in Holland on November 18, 1900. He 
moved to America when he was ten years old. Eventually he graduated from 
Calvin College, Calvin Seminary, and Princeton Seminary. Known by many 
as a pastor, a teacher, and an author, he died on January 12, 1982. From his 
pen had come commentaries on all four gospels and on all the pauline epistles 


except 1 and 2 Corinthians. His first commentary was on John, and the last 
one completed before his death was on Romans.' Readers of Hendriksen's 
commentaries will be happy to know that Simon Kistemaker of Reformed 
Seminary, Jackson, Mississippi, has been asked by the publisher to complete 
the series. 

In an earlier review {GTJ 2 [1981] 347-49), volume one of the Romans 
commentary (Romans 1-8) was discussed. Now the commentary is available 
in a one volume edition. This review will cover only a few specifics from the 
section on Romans 9-16. 

A weakness of many Romans commentaries is the tendency to see chap- 
ters 9-11 as parenthetical, not as an integral part of the epistle. Here Hendrik- 
sen's commentary is not an exception. There needs to be more explanation of 
the logical argument of 9-1 1 and of its place in the general argument of the 
epistle. Once one begins to read the comments on individual sections in these 
chapters, however, many helpful insights are found. I especially appreciated 
the frank discussion of election and reprobation which follows the comments 
on Rom 9:10-13 (pp. 320-24). Both the positive statements and the answers 
to objections are very helpful. 

Dispensationalists will profit from the discussion of the major views of 
"all Israel shall be saved" (Rom 1 1:26, pp. 379-82). Of course, many will not 
agree with Hendriksen that "all Israel" simply refers to an elect remnant 
from Israel. Here Hendriksen takes essentially the same view as O. P. Robert- 
son ("Is There a Distinctive Future for Ethnic Israel in Romans 1 1?," Perspec- 
tives on Evangelical Theology [ed. K. S. Kantzer and S. N. Gundry; Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1979] 209-27) that Romans 11 describes the present process 
where individual Israelites receive Christ. A future conversion of the nation is 
not in view. Dispensationalists should be aware that this approach to the 
chapter is more formidable than the old interpretation that "all Israel" referred 
to the Church. 

The problem of the weak and the strong (14:1-15:13) is another place 
where more depth would have helped. Although there is a brief introduction 
to the issue (pp. 452-55), more needs to be said. Was this simply a Jew 
(weak) vs. Gentile (strong) problem (p. 453)? It appears to be more compli- 
cated than that, since Jews were not vegetarians (14:2). 

In the final section of the commentary, Hendriksen simply but ably 
defends the unity of the epistle. He even includes an appendix arguing for the 
genuineness of 16:25-27 (pp. 521-23). Here he shows some qualified apprecia- 
tion for the work of Harry Gamble on The Textual History of the Letter to 
the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977). Also in the exposition of 
chapter 16 it is refreshing to see Hendriksen exonerate Paul from the charge 
of being a woman hater. Though he does not believe Phoebe (16:1-2) was an 
official deaconess, he still emphasizes the crucial role played by women in the 
ministry of the church (pp. 499-501). 

In summary, it is still true that the commentaries of William Hendriksen 
are among the best general purpose commentaries available today. It seems 

'For biographical information on Hendriksen, see The Banner of Truth ll^i (1982) 


appropriate here to conclude with a challenge to both pastors and professors 
to emulate Hendriksen's example. As a professor, I could wish that the 
comments were more detailed, and that they showed more interaction with 
Cranfield, Kasemann, and the scholarly journals. On the other hand, some 
pastors probably wish that there was more devotional material here. There is 
a lesson in all of this for both pastors and professors. Pastors should be 
proficient enough in their studies to write a commentary like this. And profes- 
sors should be concerned enough for Christ's church to write accurate commen- 
taries which are down-to-earth and readable. For the average pastor, this 
could mean more time in the study. For the average professor, this could 
mean more time for the people in the pews. May Hendriksen's life and work 
challenge both pastors and professors toward a more balanced ministry. 

David L. Turner 

Chronological and Background Charts of the New Testament, by H. Wayne 
House. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981. $10.95. Pp. 156. 

All students of the NT — be they scholars, professors, pastors, students, 
or laymen — owe a debt of gratitude to Wayne House for one of the most 
concise, clear, and extensive overviews of NT backgrounds in print. In 
reviewing the work, I found myself repeatedly echoing the sentiment of 
Harold Hoehner in the foreward: "Wayne House has put in one volume 
information that would take a Hbrary of books to give, in a format beneficial 
to all who read and study their Bible." 

The book is divided into four large sections: 1. General Material (18 
charts with an emphasis on certain aspects of bibliology as well as weights 
and measures), 2. Backgrounds to the New Testament (24 charts with 
emphases on the various political situations and first-century Judaism), 
3. The Gospels (19 charts with an emphasis on the synoptic problem and 
chronological schemes related to Christ's life), and 4. The Apostolic Age (15 
charts with an emphasis on Acts and the Revelation). 

Like hors d'oeuvres at an elegant affair, page after page is filled with new 
and delightful tidbits which all stimulate the mind, creating a hunger for 
more. House has masterfully canvassed many of the most significant topics 
for NT backgrounds and has presented them in an easily digestible format. 
Such a great diversity of information is here at a glance! Some of the charts I 
found most helpful (especially in their clarity and brevity) were "The New 
Testament Canon During the First Four Centuries" (p. 22), "Theories Con- 
cerning the History of the Text" (p. 24), "Money" (p. 27), "A Genealogical 
Chart of the Herodian Dynasty" (p. 72), "The Reckoning of Passover" 
(p. 81), "Chronology of the Ministry of Jesus" (p. 102) with "An Alternate 
Chronological Table of Christ's Life" (p. 104), "A Chronology of the Apostolic 
Age" (pp. 127-28) with "An Alternate Chronology" (pp. 129-32), and 
"Theories of Literary Structures of Revelation" (p. 146). 

The volume, however, is not entirely praiseworthy, though I believe that 
the several minor flaws I noticed could be corrected in subsequent editions. 
First of all, because House relies so extensively on previously published 


charts, there are several major overlaps, rendering some of the charts 
unnecessary. For example, "Books of the New Testament Classified Doc- 
trinally" (p. 20) and "Theological Emphases and Order of New Testament 
Letters" [sic] (p. 21) overlap at virtually every point, though both were 
presumably from two different printed sources. It is suggested that House 
revise these charts and make them one by harmonizing the virtually synony- 
mous material. A similar overlapping of data (though inconsistently) occurs 
in the charts "Paul's Missionary Journeys" (pp. 124-26) (in which the dates 
of Paul's letters are not mentioned), "A Chronology of the Apostolic Age" 
(pp. 127-28) (in which the dates of all NT books are listed), and "An 
Alternate Chronology" (pp. 129-32) (in which dates of Paul's letters only are 

Second, several charts were simply too brief: they lacked sufficient 
explanation for the average student. For example, "The Structure of Roman 
Society" (p. 54) lists classes of men from emperor to slave, though with no 
definition of terms (such as quaestor and plebian) and without an indication 
of type of classification: is it political, military or related to wealth? As well, 
"The Ptolemies" (p. 67), "The Seleucids" (p. 68), "The Maccabees" (p. 69), 
and the "Hasmoneans" (p. 70) all require explanation as to their function 
(political? religious?) and geographical area of influence. 

Third, due to the nature of the charts there are too many generalizations. 
For example, in "Interpretations of Revelation" (p. 145) and "Theological 
Perspectives on Revelation" (p. 145) the futurist/ premillennial approach 
allegedly sees the churches of Revelation 2-3 (though House lumps the first 
three chapters together) as "Historic churches representative of historical 
stages." To my knowledge, most non-dispensational premillennialists do not 
view these churches as "seven stages of church history" (ibid.) and there also 
seems to be a growing consensus among dispensationalists that these churches 
are not chronologically typical of the present dispensation. 

Fourth, the sources used to compile the charts needed to be mentioned 
more often. For example, the list of "New Testament Quotations of Old 
Testament Passages" (pp. 28-32) seemed rather conservative to me. It would 
have been helpful to know the source as well as whether these were formal 
quotations (i.e., with introductory formulas) or both formal and informal. 
The "Selected New Testament Prophecies and Their Fulfillment in the New 
Testament Period" chart (pp. 33-36) could have mentioned the basis of the 
selection. The "Cities of the Seven Churches of the Apocalypse" (p. 62) whet 
the appetite with such helpful information that one could only wish for a 
brief bibliography. 1 would hope that in future editions, the sources for every 
chart are mentioned (even though in many cases this would entail a multiple 

Fifth, in the interpretive charts (e.g., "The Destination of the Letter to 
the Galatians" [pp. 136-39], "Theories of Literary Structures of Revelation" 
[p. 146]) some of the more articulate advocates for the various views as well 
as individual arguments ought to be mentioned as was done with "Theories 
Concerning the Authorship of Hebrews" (pp. 140-44). 

Sixth, some of the charts were confusing in their symbolism. For 
example, in "Literary Relationships of the Synoptic Gospels" (p. 88) Mark 


apparently has no relation to Matthew or Luke! Another arrow or two could 
have cleared up the fog. 

Seventh, some of the charts were incomplete. The chart on the "Theories 
Concerning the History of the Text" (p. 24) should have added a section on 
Zane Hodges's view (majority text) as well as G. D. Kilpatrick's (eclectic). 
"Prominent Persons of the New Testament" (pp. 44-46) omitted all of the 
disciples, James, Jude, Paul, and the Lord Jesus. It might better have been 
entitled "Semi-Prominent Persons." The "Suggested Solutions to the Synoptic 
Problem" (p. 89) did not suggest a Matthean-priority scheme. 

Eighth, some of the titles lacked sufficient description. "The Ministry of 
Christ" (p. 105) should have "Chronology" in the title. "An Alternate 
Chronology" (pp. 129-32) should have added "of the Apostolic Age." 
"Corinthian Correspondence and Visits" (p. 135) should add "Paul's" at its 
inception. "Theories of Literary Structures of Revelation" (p. 146) only dealt 
with the judgments, not the whole book. 

Finally, for future editions one would hope for some additional charts 
such as "Theories on the Nature of NT Greek" and "Arguments on the 
Authorship of the Pastorals, 1-2 Peter, etc." (This last suggestion brings to 
the fore the clash between liberals and conservatives — an item which seems to 
have been studiously avoided throughout the work.) 

Though these criticisms are numerous, one must remember that the 
reviewer's task of criticism pales by significance of with the author's task of 
creation. I, for one, heartily recommend this volume in its present state and 
eagerly anticipate future editions which will only serve to enrich this sub- 
stantial effort. 

Daniel B. Wallace 
mukilteo, wa 

Epistemology: The Justification of Belief , by David L. Wolfe. Downers Grove: 
InterVarsity, 1982. Pp. 92. $3.95. 

Epistemology: The Justification of Belief \% the first offering in the Inter- 
Varsity Press series "Contours of Christian Philosophy" edited by C. Stephen 
Evans. Projected volumes in the series include Metaphysics by William Has- 
ker. Ethics by Arthur Holmes and Philosophy of Religion by editor Evans. 

Teachers and students of philosophy, apologetics, and theology will be 
equally pleased with this well-written and well-reasoned essay. The plan of 
the book is (1) to describe and criticize strategies philosophers have proposed 
for providing warrant for belief; (2) to see which strategies have the prospect 
of being successful in justifying belief; and (3) to set out the lines by which a 
plausible attempt at justifying belief could be carried out (pp. 16-17). 

Every beginning student in philosophy and apologetics will profit from 
the brief but cogent analysis of the five basic approaches to justify beliefs in 
chapter two. This part of the book warrants recommending it as a required 
text for students in introductory courses in philosophy, epistemology, and 


The problem of criteria is the subject of chapter three. World views are 
seen as having central core beliefs that cannot be justified in the same way 
that empirical assertions can be justified. These control-beliefs form the most 
general unlimited theoretical structure of a world view. A fourfold criteria of 
consistency (no contradiction), coherence (internal relatedness of statements), 
comprehensiveness (inclusive of all experience), and congruity (the fit of the 
scheme to experience) is proposed as the basis for warranting the interpretive 
scheme (p. 55). Application of the criteria demands carefulness in interpreting 
statements within the context of the interpretive scheme as well as the evalua- 
tive role of experience. When the criteria have been carefully applied through 
time, the status of the warranted beliefs becomes corroborated or plausible. 
Expectations concerning the epistemological status of these beliefs must be 
revised. Proof of beliefs is not to be expected; rather corroboration or plausi- 
bility is the best that can be achieved. Interpretive schemes are thus criticized 
internally by experiences to determine whether they are adequately congruent 
with reality. 

The final chapter asserts that faith and reason are complementary aspects 
of the warranting process. All systems involve faith. The key question is 
whether the system can survive testing (pp. 71, 72). Religious commitment 
and criticism are viewed as compatible for the criticism of religious beliefs, 
much like the criticism of everyday beliefs. 

David L. Wolfe has provided an important essay on a major philosophi- 
cal issue. His use of sources and his style of writing tend to keep his philo- 
sophical commitments in the background. Methodologically he suggests that 
each person start to test his beliefs from where he is. As long as the interpretive 
scheme does not succumb to criticism, it should be followed. When it breaks 
down, one should go to a scheme that offers the best values and the most 
hope. As it is tested through time by the criteria and their appropriate applica- 
tion, it can become corroborated. One should start with Christianity and see 
how well it stands when it is subjected to active criticism (p. 68). 

The apologetical implications of the essay are now evident as are the 
author's understanding of theological anthropology. Perhaps my problem 
with both of these needs to be submitted to active criticism and 1 will find 
that my core beliefs in these areas can no longer be warranted. Until that 
occurs, this book is recommended as a creative and well-reasoned essay based 
in the tradition of axiopistic apologetics. 

James M. Grier 
Dean, Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary 

The Great Debate: Calvinism, Arminianism, and Salvation, by Alan P. F. 
Sell. Reprint, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 141. $5.95. Paper. 

As I picked up this book 1 was hoping to find a careful discussion of the 
theological and exegetical issues distinctive of the theological systems identi- 
fied in the title. I was disappointed by the discovery that the book is more 
historical than theological. The author traces the history of this major con- 
troversy from the 17th through the 19th centuries. The research involved is 
awesome, and it is often tiring to wade through the lists of little-known 


combatants in the debate. On the other hand, there are many quotations 
from notable contenders such as Calvin, Arminius, Baxter, Owen, Whitefield, 
Wesley, Toplady, and Gill. 

A three-page glossary gives definitions of twenty-one key terms. Unfor- 
tunately, the definitions are too brief, too dated, and too ambiguous to be 
entirely satisfactory. There also seems to be some lack of consistency in the 
use of technical terms in the text itself. The term 'supralapsarianism' is de- 
fined in the glossary as "the view that the decree of predestination includes 
the decree to create man and to permit him to fall" (p. 101). By this definition 
Calvin would certainly be a supralapsarian and Sell properly labels this as the 
classical rather than the modern usage (p. 99). But in the text, Beza is repre- 
sented as going beyond Calvin in "developing a supralapsarian scheme" (p. 3). 
It is later acknowledged that "Calvin inclines toward supralapsarianism" 
(p. 19), but the term "inclines" is far too weak if the classical meaning of the 
term is intended. 

A similar problem appears with the term "universalism," which is de- 
fined in the glossary as "the doctrine that by the mercy of God all men shall 
at last be saved, albeit via the purgation of death" (p. 101). But when Amy- 
raldism is discussed, it is noted that this view was later labelled as "hypothetic 
universalism" (p. 30) (i wish that it had been noted that this is an unfair and 
highly prejudiced label). Apparently the concept of "universal atonement" is 
later expressed as a "universalism," since there are frequent references to the 
"universalism" of the Arminians (pp. 76, 79), some Calvinists (p. 94), and of 
Wesley (p. 124). 

Sell specifically places himself on the Calvinistic side of the controversy. 
This reviewer must disagree with his classification of limited atonement as a 
"crucial doctrine" (p. 41), and with his commitment to regeneration as ante- 
cedent to repentance and belief (p. 98). Sell does, however, plead for ameliora- 
tion of Calvinism, and rightly labels Arminianism as "not strictly a heresy. 
but as a dangerous error" (p. 23). 

This is not the book for one who is trying to develop convictions relative 
to the Arminian/ Calvinistic issues. History buffs and professional theologians 
will find that the copious documentation provides a useful resource tool. 

Charles R. Smith 

Soviet Evangelicals Since World War II, by Walter Sawatsky. Scottdale, PA: 
Herald, 1981. Pp. 527. $19.95. 

As a result of his observations made on his crusade in the Soviet Union, 
a well-known American evangelist proclaimed that there was religious liberty 
there. As might be expected, there was worldwide reaction to this pronounce- 
ment. While those responses were mixed, to say the least, they had one thing 
in common — few had taken the time to see for themselves what was the 
actual state of religion in Russia. Reading this volume would greatly resolve 
the state of ignorance characteristic of many in the West. 

As the author points out, most people see the condition of religion in the 
Soviet Union in one of two extremes. The one pictures the Bible-believing 
church to be in a state of warfare with the atheistic government. The other 


extreme is the view that there is plenty of freedom and believers can co-exist 
with the state peacefully. The purpose of the book is to examine these per- 
spectives to see which, if either, is most correct. This leads to what is perhaps 
the most valuable feature of the book: "... it is both a history and descriptive 
analysis" (p. 15) of the evangelical movement since the turn of the century, 
with special emphasis on the movement since World War II. Another valuable 
feature which results from a reading is that "the Soviet evangelical experience 
sets one thinking about the way a church reflects its theology" (p. 13). While 
a great many questions are resolved in the book, this reflection does cause 
one to stand in amazement at the complexities which confront the Christian 
in a world like this. 

While this volume reflects the expertise of one who is well-versed in both 
the Soviet Union and the evangelical movement, it also is written from a 
distinct theological perspective: 

I have also introduced my own Anabaptist-Mennonite viewpoints rather speci- 
fically along the way. These viewpoints differ from 'established evangelicalism' 
in emphasis — noticeable in such areas as discipleship, concept of the church and 
nonviolence. I feel close kinship with the 'New Evangelicals,' one of whom in 
particular has helped me see the potential value of applying an Anabaptist 
theological grid to the Soviet evangelicals (p. 18). 

These presuppositions have not seriously altered the quality of the book as 
regards its historical information. The interpretation of that history is, how- 
ever, another matter entirely. To this I will return later. 

Evangelicalism has been present in the Soviet Union since the 19th cen- 
tury. It grew and prospered and at first welcomed the Communists, expecting 
their long desired goal of religious freedom. At first this was realized, only to 
be taken away in the great national upheavals of the 1920s and 1930s. For all 
practical purposes the church ceased as an identifiable entity. It is ironic, 
however, to note that the rebirth of evangelicalism can be traced to World 
War II. With the energies of the state directed against the invading Germans, 
the church became somewhat important to the state. The great War of Libera- 
tion united all the Russian people, including the evangelicals. As a result of 
their valuable participation in the war, they were given new freedoms by the 
state. This led to the foundation of the AUCECB (All Union Council of 
Evangelical Christians-Baptists) which, to this day, remains the only officially 
recognized evangelical movement. That relationship continues only insofar as 
the church exists in symbiosis with the state. That contribution revolves 
around the willingness of the evangelicals to support the state, to project the 
view that there is religious freedom, and to support the peace movement 
fostered by the state. 

Increasing state pressure on the church and especially its leadership led 
to a major split within the AUCECB and the formation of a new evangelical 
witness called the CCECB (Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians- 
Baptists) in 1965. The split continues over the major issue of the relationship 
of the church to the state. The CCECB has argued vehemently that the 
leadership of the AUCECB has compromised itself irreparably in its dealings 
with the state authorities. The author's evaluation of this split takes up much 
of the book. 


It is not possible for me to interact with the book's presentation of 
historical materials since that would take a Russian specialist. On the other 
hand, the strength of the book is clearly its value as a source book for 
studying the history of the evangelical movement in the Soviet Union. 

I would like, however, to deal with Sawatsky's interpretation of those 
historical materials. For the most part, he is critical of the CCECB for its 
failure to register a "Christian" response to the olive branch extended by the 
AUCECB leadership in the post-split era. In insisting upon total separation 
of church and state, Sawatsky thinks the CCECB cannot survive in that 
country. Furthermore, it has violated the many scriptural injunctions toward 
unity — indeed, this is the one "... mystery which the church must demon- 
strate to the powers ..." (p. 234). This is a curious use of Scripture. He 
quotes Eph 3:10, which has nothing to do with unity, but rather emphasizes 
the importance of communicating Christ. We might ask: is there a limit to the 
price to be placed on unity? Is it at any cost? He also refers to Eph 2:14-22, 
which has nothing to do with the hard issues facing these two movements. In 
other words, unity is exhorted in Scripture but never at the price of truth. 
The issue, then, is not really unity but the identity of truth. It is interesting 
that although the author grieves over the split and, on occasion, scores the 
CCECB for its intractability, he does not register an equal concern for the 
great issues which fostered the split. 

The spirit of the book is irenic. It is in this same spirit that these com- 
ments are intended. The issues, however, should dominate the analysis of the 
book. If unity is so important, we might ask why the CCECB alone is errant. 
It might well be postulated that if the entire evangelical movement had cooper- 
ated (i.e., followed the CCECB proposals), then the state might have agreed 
to allow true religious freedom. If a common front is the goal, why is it that 
the CCECB is the guilty party? Is there no excess in cooperating to the point 
of compromise? 

The central thesis seems to be that the only thing that matters is that the 
present evangelical movement must not arouse the opposition of the state. It 
is more important to preach the gospel under some limitations than it is to 
demand to be free of all limitations. In response to this, it is somewhat 
curious that the author should refer disparagingly to "American pragmatism" 
(p. 403), while arguing for Christian pragmatism within the atheistic state. It 
seems to be wrong to smuggle Bibles into the country because one must lie to 
do it. It is not wrong, however, to allow the state to manipulate the church 
for propagandistic purposes, to limit its ministries (for example, evangelicals 
may not contribute to social programs in third world countries), or to control 
its own budget (pp. 426-27). 

It is not my purpose to force the reader to choose, as it were, between 
good and evil. It is incredibly difficult to live in this complex world. Sawatsky 
has shown the difficulties which the Russian believer faces. His analysis, 
however, has led me to suspect that he is a better historian than theologian. 
Having said that, let me close by saying that this volume ought to be read by 
every born-again believer. How shall we stand before God in a state of 
ignorance when such precious information has been made available? 

Donald L. Fowler 


Christian Perspectives on Sociology, ed. by Stephen A. Grunlan and Milton 
Reimer. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. 

1. Milton K. Reimer, "The Study of Sociology: An Introduction" (pp. 1 1- 
27); 2. Paul V. Johnson, "Research Methodology in Sociology" (pp. 28-46); 
3. Stephen A. Grunlan, "Biblical Authority and Cultural Relativity" (pp. 47- 
65); 4. Robert McCluskey, "Socialization" (pp. 66-89); 5. Russell Heddendorf, 
"Status and Role" (pp. 90-108); 6. Dawn McNeal Ward, "Social Stratifica- 
tion: Social Class and Social Mobility" (pp. 109-24); 7. Don Gray, "Deviance 
and Social Control" (pp. 125-49); 8. Winston A. Johnson, "Groups" (pp. 150- 
66); 9. Donald L. Conrad, "Marriage and the Family" (pp. 167-87); 10. 
Stephen A. Grunlan, "Economics" (pp. 188-203); 11. Stephen G. Cobb, "Pol- 
itics" (pp. 204-25); 12. Marilyn J. and Charles E. Weldin, "Education" 
(pp. 226-44); 13. Richard J. Stellway, "Religion" (pp. 245-63); 14. Robert 
McCluskey, "Formal Organizations" (pp. 264-89); 15. Richard Perkins, 
"Minority-Majority Relations" (pp. 290-310); 16. Stanley A. Clark, "Collec- 
tive Behavior and Social Movements" (pp. 311-35); 17. Donald L. Conrad, 
"Demography, Population, and Ecology" (pp. 336-61); 18. Kenneth Gowdy, 
"Communities and Urbanization" (pp. 362-84); 19. Ronald Burwell, "Social 
Change" (pp. 385-400); 20. Stephen A. Grunlan, "Sociology and the Chris- 
tian" (pp. 401-14). 

The Jew and the Christian Missionary: A Jewish Response to Missionary 
Christianity, by Gerald Sigal. New York: KTAV, 1981. 

I: THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES — 1. "Her Seed (Genesis 3:15)" 
(pp. 3-5); 2. "The First Human Birth (Genesis 4:1)" (pp. 6-7); 3. "The Seed 
of Abraham (Genesis 13:15, 17:8)" (p. 8); 4. "Until Shiloh Comes (Genesis 
49:10)" (pp. 9-10); 5. "Sin and Atonement (Leviticus 17:11)" (pp. 11-17); 6. 
"A Prophet Like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18)" (p. 17); 7. "The Curse of 
the Law (Deuteronomy 27:26)" (pp. 18-19); 8. "The Virgin-Birth Myth (Isaiah 
7:14)" (pp. 20-28); 9. "Who Is the Child? (Isaiah 9:5-6)" (pp. 29-32); 10. 
"The Messianic Age (Isaiah 11)" (pp. 33-34); 11. "The Suffering Servant of 
the Lord (Isaiah 52:13-53:12)" (pp. 35-68); 12. "A Woman Encompasses a 
Man (Jeremiah 31:31-34)" (p. 69); 13. "Jeremiah's New Covenant (Jeremiah 
31:31-34)" (pp. 70-73); 14. "Hosea and the Second Coming of Jesus (Hosea 
5:15)" (pp. 74-75); 15. "Bethlehem Ephratah (Micah 5:1)" (pp. 76-77); 16. 
"One Ass or Two? (Zechariah 9:9)" (pp. 78-79); 17. "Who Was Pierced? 
(Zechariah 12: 10)" (pp. 80-82); 18. "Elijah the Prophet (Malachi 3:1, 23-24)" 
(pp. 83-86); 19. "You Are My Son (Psalm 2)" (pp. 87-89); 20. "The Psalmist 
and the Resurrection of Jesus (Psalm 16:9-10)" (pp. 90-94); 21. "The Psalmist 
and the Crucifixion of Jesus (Psalm 22)" (pp. 95-99); 22. "A Familiar Friend 


(Psalm 41:10)" (pp. 100-104); 23. "Mixed-Up Drinks (Psalm 69:22)" (pp. 102- 
3); 24. "My Lord (Psalm 110:1, 4)" (pp. 104-6); 25. "What Is His Son's 
Name? (Proverbs 30:4)" (pp. 107-8); 26. "Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Daniel 9: 
24-27)" (pp. 109-24). 

II: THE NEW TESTAMENT — 27. "A Trilogy on the Trinity," 1. "The 
Doctrine of the Trinity and the Hebrew Bible" (pp. 125-44), 2. "The Influence 
of Philo on the Doctrine of the Trinity" (pp. 145-49), 3. "The Doctrine of the 
Trinity and the New Testament" (pp. 150-78); 28. "A Fable Is Born (Matthew 
1:1-16, Luke 3:23-38)" (pp. 179-88); 29. "Prophecy and Fulfillment in the 
New Testament: Rachel Weeping for Her Children (Matthew 2:16-18)" 
(pp. 189-90); 30. "The Nazarene (Matthew 2:23)" (p. 191); 31. "The Poor 
Memory of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11, 13-17; Mark 1:7-1 1; Luke 3:16, 
21, 22; John 1:26-34)" (pp. 192-94); 32. "Satan's Temptation (Matthew 4:1- 
11, Mark 1:13, Luke 4:1-13)" (pp. 195-96); 33. "Jesus Moves from Nazareth 
to Capernaum (Matthew 4:13-16)" (pp. 197-98); 34. "Jesus and Divorce 
(Matthew 5:32, 19:8-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16: 18)" (pp. 199-200); 35. "Turn- 
ing the Other Cheek (Matthew 5:39, Luke 6:29)" (pp. 201-2); 36. "Is Chris- 
tianity Entirely Good? The New Testament Perspective (Matthew 7:15-20, 
Luke 6:43-45)" (pp. 203-4); 37. "The Drowning of the Herd of Swine (Mat- 
thew 8:30-32, Mark 5:11-13, Luke 8:31-33)" (pp. 205-6); 38. "Jesus' Outlook 
on Violence (Matthew 10:34-35; Luke 12:49-53, 19:27)" (pp. 207-8); 39. 
"Who Shall See the Second Coming of Jesus? (Matthew 16:28, Mark 9:1, 
Luke 9:27)" (pp. 209-10); 40. "Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Mat- 
thew 21:8-11, Mark 11:8-10, Luke 19:36-38, John 12:12-13)" (pp. 211-13); 
41. "Violence in the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45- 
46, John 2:13-16)" (pp. 214-17); 42. "The Cursing of the Fig Tree (Matthew 
21:18-22; Mark 11:12-14, 20-25)" (pp. 218-19); 43. "Which Zechariah? 
(Matthew 23:35)" (pp. 220-21); 44. "Confused Traditions (Matthew 26:6-7, 
Mark 14:3, Luke 7:37-38, John 12:2-3)" (pp. 222-23); 45. "Thirty Silver 
Pieces (Matthew 26:14-15)" (p. 224); 46. "The Last Supper (Matthew 26:17- 
30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-39, John 13:1-18:1)" (pp. 225-26); 47. "Did 
Jesus Offer Himself as a Willing Sacrifice for Mankind's Sins? (Matthew 
26:39, Mark 14:35-36, Luke 22:41-44)" (pp. 227-28); 48. "The Trial of Jesus 
(Matthew 26:57-27:24, Mark 14:53-15:15, Luke 22:54-23:24, John 18:12- 
19:16)" (pp. 229-31); 49. "How False Were the 'False Witnesses'? (Matthew 
26:59-61, Mark 14:55-59)" (pp. 232-34); 50. "The Death of Judas Iscariot 
(Matthew 27:3-5)" (p. 235); 51. "The Potter's Field (Matthew 27:7-10)" 
(pp. 236-37); 52. "The Resurrection (Matthew 28:6-7, Mark 16:6, Luke 24:6, 
John 20:9)" (pp. 238-53); 53. "Did Jesus Misread the Scriptures? (Mark 2:25- 
26)" (p. 254); 54. "A Family's Verdict: 'He Is Out of His Mind' (Mark 3:19- 
21, 31)" (p. 255); 55. "Who Declared the Word of God Invalid? (Mark 
7:9-13)" (pp. 256-57); 56. "How Kosher Was Jesus? (Mark 7:14-15, 18-19)" 
(pp. 256-57); 57. "Who Is, a Christian? (Mark 16:16-18)" (pp. 260-61); 58. 
"The Census (Luke 2:1-5)" (pp. 262-63); 59. "Jesus and Forgiveness (Luke 
23:34)" (p. 264); 60. "A Bone of Contention (John 19:33, 36)" (pp. 265-68); 
61. "Confused Acts (Acts 7:14-16)" (pp. 269-70); 62. "Abraham and Faith 
(Romans 4:9-16)" (pp. 271-74); 63. "The Need to Be Saved (Romans 5:12, 


18-19)" (pp. 275-82); 64. "Born Under Law (Galatians 4:4)" (p. 283); 65. 
"Who Was Melchizedek? (Hebrews 7:3)" (pp. 284-85); 66. "Noah and Baptism 
(1 Peter 3:20-21)" (p. 286); 67. "The Missing Tribe (Revelation 7:4-8)" 
(pp. 287-88); 68. "Conclusion" (pp. 289-92). 

On Being Human: Essays in Theological Anthropology, by Ray S. Anderson. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982. 

Part One: The Form of the Human — 1. "Toward a Theological An- 
thropology" (pp. 3-19); 2. "Humanity as Creatureliness" (pp. 20-32); 3. 
"Humanity as Determined by the Word of God" (pp. 33-42); 4. "Humanity as 
Determined by the Other" (pp. 44-53); 5. "Humanity as Self-Deter mined" 
(pp. 55-68). 

Part Two: Being Human — 6. "Being Human — In the Image of God" 
(pp. 69-87); 7. "Being Human — In Contradiction and in Hope" (pp. 88-103); 
8. "Being Human — As Male and Female" (pp. 104-29); 9. "Being Human — In 
Life and Death" (pp. 130-45); 10. "Being Human — Iii Fear and Trembling" 
(pp. 146-60). 

Part Three: Personhood as Actuality and Possibility — 11. "A Theo- 
logical Paradigm for Authentic Personhood" (pp. 161-78); 12. "A Liturgical 
Paradigm for Authentic Personhood" (pp. 179-93); 13. "A Theological Per- 
spective on the Cure of Souls" (pp. 194-206). 

The Bib Sac Reader, ed. by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck. Chicago: 
Moody, 1983. 

THEOLOGICAL STUDIES — 1. Charles C. Ryrie, "Some Important 
Aspects of Biblical Inerrancy" (Jan-Mar 1970) (pp. 3-12); 2. John A. Witmer, 
"The Doctrine of Miracles" (Apr-June 1973) (pp. 13-21); 3. Lewis Sperry 
Chafer, "For Whom Did Christ Die?" (Oct-Dec 1980) (pp. 22-39); 4. John F. 
Walvoord, "Does the Church Fulfill Israel's Program?" (July-Sept 1980) 
(pp. 40-52); 5. Jack S. Deere, "Premillennialism in Revelation 20:4-6" (Jan- 
Mar 1978) (pp. 53-68); 6. Norman C. Geisler, "Johannine Apologetics" (Oct- 
Dec 1979) (pp. 69-80); 7. Edwin C. Deibler, "The Chief Characteristic of 
Early English Puritanism" (Oct-Dec 1972) (pp. 81-92). 

BIBLICAL STUDIES — 9. J. Dwight Pentecost, "The Purpose of the 
Law" (July-Sept 1971) (pp. 107-14); 10. J. Carl Laney, "A Fresh Look at the 
Imprecatory Psalms" (Jan-Mar 1981) (pp. 115-26); 11. Kenneth C. Barker, 
"Jeremiah's Ministry and Ours" (July-Sept 1970) (pp. 127-34); 12. J. Lanier 
Burns, "A Reemphasis on the Purpose of the Sign Gifts" (July-Sept 1975) 
(pp. 135-42); 13. D. Edmond Hiebert, "The Unifying Theme of the Epistle of 
James" (July-Sept 1978) (pp. 143-54); 14. Zane C. Hodges, "Fellowship and 
Confession in 1 John 1:5-10" (Jan-Mar 1972) (pp. 155-68); 15. Jeffrey L. 
Townsend, "The Rapture in Revelation 3:10" (July-Sept 1980) (pp. 169-86). 

MINISTERIAL STUDIES — 16. Raymond C. Ortlund, "Priorities for 
the Local Church" (Jan-Mar 1981) (pp. 187-97); 17. A. Duane Litfin, "A 
Biblical View of the Marital Roles: Seeking a Balance" (Oct-Dec 1976) 


(pp. 198-206); 18. H. Wayne House, "Paul, Women, and Contemporary Evan- 
gelical Feminism" (Jan-Mar 1979) (pp. 207-21); 19. Kenneth O. Gangel, 
"Integrating Faith and Learning: Principles and Process" (Apr-June 1978) 
(pp. 222-32); 20. J. Ronald Blue, "Untold Billions: Are They Really Lost?" 
(Oct-Dec 1981) (pp. 233-46); 21. George W. Peters, "Missions in a Reli- 
giously Pluralistic World" (Oct-Dec 1979) (pp. 247-60). 

Standing Before God: Studies on Prayer in Scriptures and in Tradition with 
Essays in Honor of John M. Oesterreicher, ed. by Asher Finkel and Lawrence 
Frizzell. New York: KTAV, 1981. 

WORSHIP IN SCRIPTURES — Eugene H. Maly, "The Highest Heav- 
ens Cannot Contain You': Immanence and Transcendence in the Deutero- 
nomist" (pp. 23-30); Alfons Deissler, "The Theology of Psalm 104 (trans- 
lated)" (pp. 31-40); Lawrence Frizzell, "A Hymn of Creation in Daniel" 
(pp. 41-52); Otto Betz, "To Worship God in Spirit and in Truth': Reflections 
on John 4,20-26 (translated)" (pp. 53-72); Peter G. Ahr, "'He Loved Them 
to Completion': The Theology of John 13,14" (pp. 73-90); Lou H. Silberman, 
"Prophets/ Angels: LXX and Qumran Psalm 151 and the Epistle to the 
Hebrews" (pp. 91-102); Gerard S. Sloyan, "Who Are the People of God?" 
(pp. 103-16). 

PRAYER IN TRADITION ^ Dieter Zeller, "God as Father in the 
Proclamation and in the Prayer of Jesus (translated)" (pp. 117-30); Asher 
Finkel, "The Prayer of Jesus in Matthew" (pp. 131-70); Joseph Sievers, 
"'Where Two or Three . . . ': The Rabbinic Concept of Shekhinah and Matt 
18,20" (pp. 171-82); Kurt Hruby, "The Proclamation of the Unity of God as 
Actualization of the Kingdom (translated)" (pp. 183-94); Arnold Goldberg, 
"Service of the Heart: Liturgical Aspects of Synagogue Worship (translated)" 
(pp. 195-212); Clemens Thoma, "Observations on the Concept and the Early 
Forms of Akedah Spirituality (translated)" (pp. 213-22); Jakob J. Petuchow- 
ski, "Theology and Poetry in the Liturgy of the Synagogue" (pp. 223-32); 
Richard Morton Nardone, "The Church of Jerusalem and the Christian 
Calendar" (pp. 233-56). 

REFLECTIONS — Walter Strolz, "The Unique One: The Uniqueness 
of God according to Deutero-Isaiah (translated)" (pp. 257-66); Edward A. 
Synan, "Prayer, Proof, and Anselm's Proslogion" (pp. 267-88); Annie Kraus, 
"The Sin of Folly (translated)" (pp. 289-300); Willehad Paul Eckert, "The 
Vision of Synagoga in the Scivias of Hildegard of Bingen (translated)" 
(pp. 301-12); Michael Wyschogrod, "Judaism and Conscience" (pp. 313-28); 
Herbert Weiner, "On the Mystery of Eating: Thoughts Suggested by the 
Writings of Rav Abraham Isaac Kuk" (pp. 329-38); Jacob B. Agus, "A Jewish 
View of the World Community" (pp. 339-74); Shemaryahu Talmon, "Utopia 
and Reality in Martin Buber's Thought (translated)" (pp. 375-86); Monika K. 
Hellwig, "A Cycle of Holocaust Songs" (pp. 387-92). 





Volume 5 No 2 Fall 1984 

Grace Theological Journal 

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Grace Theological Seminary 

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Volume 5 No 2 Fall 1984 

The Classification of Participles: A Statistical Study . . . 163-179 


Aquinas, Luther, Melanchthon, and Biblical 

Apologetics 181-195 


The Case for Modern Pronunciation of Biblical 

Languages 197-203 


Aiming the Mind: A Key to Godly Living 205-227 


The Relation of Purpose and Meaning in Interpreting 

Scripture 229-245 


Restoration and Its Blessings: A Theological Analysis of 

Psalms 51 and 32 247-269 


Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus: A Review 

Article 271-288 


Book Reviews 289-307 

Books Received 309-317 

Theses and Dissertations at Grace Theological 

Seminary, 1983 319-320 


Jack Barentsen 

Faith Bible Church, 52480 Fir Road, Granger, IN 46530 

James L. Boyer 

Professor Emeritus, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary 
Drive, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Gary G. Cohen and C. Norman Sellers 

Miami Christian College, 2300 N.W. 135th Street, Miami, FL 

Weston W. Fields 

Dept. of Biblical Languages, Grace College, 200 Seminary Drive, 
Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Norman L. Geisler 

Dallas Theological Seminary, 3909 Swiss Avenue, Dallas, TX 

Jonathan Selden 

Dept. of History, University of Dayton, 300 College Park, Day- 
ton, OH 45469 

George J. Zemek, Jr. 

Dept. of Theology, Grace Theological Seminary, 200 Seminary 
Drive, Winona Lake, IN 46590 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 163-179 



James L. Boyer 

Understanding participles is a major requisite for the NT scholar. 
This study surveys the many ways participles are used in the Greek 
NT and the frequency of occurrence of each functional type. Attention 
is given to the structural patterns involved and the significance of 
these classifications. Eighteen categories are distinguished, nine of 
adjectival uses and nine of verbal uses. The special feature of this 
study is the statistical information provided, which points out the 
relative importance of the various types; more detailed discussion of 
the adverbial, the genitive absolute, the periphrastic, and the impera- 
tival categories is provided. 


THIS article does not present a new and different approach to 
participles in the NT. It is, rather, an attempt to use a new 
avenue of study via computer analysis to supply information pre- 
viously not easily available. This information concerns the relative 
frequencies of the various uses of participles in the NT, and some of 
the patterns these uses take. The first step in this process was to 
prepare an in-order list of all participles occurring in the Greek NT, 
together with a grammatical identification of each. Next, an in-context 
study was made in order to determine the usage classification of 
each. Finally, a class-by-class study of these occurrences was con- 
ducted in order to note any special features or peculiarities which 
might be helpful to the NT Greek student. The classification system 
used is for the most part the traditional one, though the purpose is 
not to defend this manner of treatment. In fact, in some cases a very 
different treatment is advocated. 

The definition of a participle as a verbal adjective sets a pattern 
for the classification of its uses. As an adjective it stands in gender. 


number and case agreement with a noun or other substantive (ex- 
pressed or unexpressed), and in some way modifies, describes, or 
limits that substantive. As a verbal, while still attached by agreement 
to a substantive, it affects also the action or predication of the 


Just as the position of the adjective in relation to the article gives 
the clue to its adjectival function (attributive or predicate), it is also 
important to understand whether the same is true of the participle. 
Thus the position of the adjectival participle in relation to its govern- 
ing noun's article was made the basis for the classification. The first 
four categories show the article in "attributive position," that is, im- 
mediately following the article. The fifth category shows the participle 
in "predicate position," that is, not following the article. The last four 
categories are ambiguous since the governing noun (if there is one) 
does not have the article and this positional distinction is thus not 

A P N (Article + Participle + Noun) 

A glance at the statistical table will show that the placing of the 
participle before the noun (APN and PN) is relatively rare. Most 
frequently it occurs when the participle has no modifiers; sometimes 
the participle has become almost an adverb, such as "existing," "near- 
by," "coming," "present." Often the participle's own modifiers are 
very brief, consisting of an adverb, a short prepositional phrase, or a 
direct or indirect object; when the modifiers are more extended they 
often are separated from it and stand after the noun. In all the in- 
stances the participle seems to be purely attributive and usually can 
best be translated as a relative clause. 

A N A P (Article + Noun + Article + Participle) 

This so-called "second attributive position" is far more frequent 
with participles. Characteristically it is used where the participial 
modifiers are extensive (although certainly not all instances are such; 
e.g., 6 Ttaxrip 6 C,G)v which occurs frequently), or where more than 
one participle is so used coordinately. Like the preceding category 
the function is purely attributive, best translated as a relative clause. 

'Of the participles identifiable by position as attributive the ratio of first to second 
attributive position is 1:2.7. Among adjectives the ratio is 1:0.7 

boyer: the classification of participles 165 

NAP (Noun + Article + Participle) 

In sharp contrast with adjectives^ this pattern is quite frequent 
with participles. By far the majority of instances occur when the 
noun is a proper name (68 times), which is then identified as "the one 
called (X-eyojievog, Ka?iou|xevoc;, ^Tti^-eyojiEvoc;, ^TtiKaXounevoc;)" by 
another proper name (23 times), or by a characteristic or customary 
action or condition when the participle is present tense (21 times) or 
perfect tense (4 times), or by a particular past action when the parti- 
ciple is aorist (20 times). This pattern occurs less frequently with 
common nouns (23 times), usually indefinite or general in nature, 
which the participle identifies more precisely by stating some specific 
act or condition. 

It is noteworthy that one idiom belonging prominently to this 
category, the "proper name + 6 Xeyo^ievoc; + proper name" also 
occurs with the first proper name showing an article, the A N A P 
category, and with both names anarthrous, the N P category. Many 
of the examples classified in this category also might well be listed 
with the A P category, as a substantival participle in apposition to 
the noun it follows. Such a situation will serve to warn against press- 
ing these differing patterns as rigid categories. Rather, they serve 
merely as convenient methods of systematizing patterns. All these are 
simply attributive. 

A P (Article + Participle) 

By far the most frequently used^ pattern of attributive participles 
is the article and the participle standing alone without a noun ex- 
pressed, the "substantive use" of the participle. A person or thing is 
sufficiently identified as "the one who . . ."or "that which . . . ," where 
the generic term is identified by a participle which states its character, 
its condition, or its action. Again the participle functions purely as an 
attributive adjective. Usually, it is translated as a relative clause, but 
in many cases it is the full equivalent of a noun; 6 Jiiaxeucov is simply 
"the believer." 

While it is beyond the scope of this article to deal with the 
significance of tense in participles, it is worthwhile to note that these 
substantival participles demonstrate rather dramatically a characteris- 
tic difference. Present participles identify by some characteristic or 
customary action or condition, and frequently are equivalent to a 

^In comparison with the 97 instances found in participles there are only 18 ex- 
amples with adjectives. All but five of these are with nouns which are proper names, 
like PoPd^cov f) \izy6.'kr\. 

M467 examples; see the statistical chart. 


name or title. So 6 oteipcov is "a sower," 6 KX.e7iTtov is "a thief," 6 
6ai[ioyiC,6\iEvoc, is "the demon-possessed person" (cf. Mk 5:15-16; it 
is used after the demon was cast out, a title which identified the man, 
not a description of his present state), 6 PanTi^cov is "the baptizer" 
(or "the Baptist"), 6 Kpivtov is "the judge," 6 (xkoucov is "a hearer," 
67iapa5i5oi3(; is "the betrayer," the infamous title of Judas most fre- 
quently used, before (Matt 26:48), during (John 18:2), and after (Matt 
27:3) the act itself. Some of these seem actually to have become 
nouns, listed as such in the lexicons; e.g., 6 apxfDV is "the ruler." The 
matter is different, however, with the substantival participle in the 
aorist and future tenses. Here the identification seems always to be 
specific, not general. An aorist participle identifies by referring to 
some specific act in past time; the future by a specific future act: so 
TO pr|08v "that which was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, etc." (very 
many times); id yevo^ieva, "the things which had happened"; 6 Ktioag, 
"the One who created them male and female," not "the Creator"; 
OTiapaSouc;, "the one who betrayed him" (John 19:11; also Matt 10:4, 
apparently from the viewpoint of the author's time); 6 TtapaScbacov, 
"the one who will betray him" (John 6:64). 

A N P (Article + Noun + Participle) 

This pattern is the only one which places the participle in a 
clearly "predicate position." This, along with its extreme rarity,"* raises 
the question whether this distinction is valid for participles. Or, to 
put it differently, are we justified in looking for a different meaning 
in these few instances solely on the basis of the analogy of the 
adjective? Some examples seem similar to those adjectives which are 
found in predicate position but are found with a sentence which 
already has its predication, and hence become in effect a secondary 
or parenthetic predication.^ So in Mark 6:2 at 5i)vd|iei(; . . . yiv6|i8vai 
the sense is not merely an identification or description of the miracles, 
but rather an added admission that they really were happening. Often, 
however, it is difficult to see any distinction. 

Only 20 were so catalogued in this study; 17 are certain (Matt 6:30 twice. Matt 
27:37; Mark 6:2; Luke 11:21, 12:28 twice, 16:14; John 2:9, 8:9, 14:10; Acts 13:32; 1 Cor 
8:12; 2 Cor 4:15; Eph 5:27; 1 Pet 3:20, 4:12) and 3 are so catalogued with some 
hesitation (John 4:39; Eph 2:4; Heb 3:2). There were other instances where a participle 
followed an articular noun, but they were adjudged to be verbal rather than adjectival, 
functioning as an adverb or as a supplement to the verb. 

'For example, 2 Pet 1:19 PePaioxepov; not "the more sure word" (which would 
require the attributive position), but rather "we have the prophetic word, which is more 

boyer: the classification of participles 167 

A^ P (Participle following Noun; no article with either) 
P N (Participle preceding Noun; no article with either) 

Like adjectives, when a participle stands in agreement with an 
anarthrous noun it is not possible to tell by position whether it is 
attributive or predicate. This does not mean that such functions are 
not present; it only means that they cannot be determined by posi- 
tion. No attempt is made in this study to ascertain the function of 
these participles. The statistical chart will show that the N P pattern 
is more common; the P N pattern is extremely rare. 

P (Participle alone, functioning substantively) 

Usually a participle standing alone is verbal (see below), but a 
considerable number of instances show that it can also be adjectival 
or substantival, even without the article. Most of these function as 
anarthrous nouns. Some stand in agreement with some other sub- 
stantive word in the sentence, such as a pronoun, a numerical adjec- 
tive, or with the subject implied in the person and number inflection 
of the verb. Anarthrous participles are placed in this category only if 
the sense of the sentence demands it — only if it is difficult to make 
sense by considering it a verbal usage. 

P: Pred. Adj. (Participle alone, as a predicate adjective) 

This is a normal and proper use for a participle, although it is 
not often singled out as a separate category. It is clearly the predicate 
use and as such does not use the article. The predicating verb is either 
£.{\i\ or yivoiiai, or is left unexpressed. It most often is in the nomina- 
tive case, although when the predicative verb is an infinitive the parti- 
ciple agrees in case with the accusative subject. Also, verbs which 
take an accusative object and a predicate complement (Ka^eco, Troieto) 
have the predicate complement in agreement with the object. 

It sometimes is a problem to decide whether a participle belongs 
to this category, or to another to be discussed below, the periphrastic 
participle. There are obvious similarities; both agree in gender, num- 
ber and case with the subject of the verb, the same verbs are involved 
(Ei|ii, perhaps yivojxai), and the sense is similar. Two considerations 
have been used to help decide. First, those places where the verbal 
sense seemed to be primarily in the participle, where the connecting 
verb was "semantically empty, "^ were classified as periphrastic. Those 
in which the copulative verb seemed to be predicating to the subject 

*A term taken from R. W. Funk, A Beginning- Intermediate Grammar of Hellenis- 
tic Greek, vol. 3 (Missoula: Scholar's Press, 1973) 430. 


some quality, act or state expressed by the participle were classified as 
predicate adjectives. This factor also explains why the periphrastic 
construction is made a part of the "verbal" uses of the participle, for 
in such instances the participle does in fact express "the verb" of the 
clause. Second, where the participle appears in a list of predications 
along with predicate adjectives or predicate complements, its parallel- 
ism with the other predicates was taken to indicate its own predicate 
nature, even when it could well have been taken as periphrastic if it 
had stood alone. 


This second general category is more frequent than the first,^ and 
it is here that the versatility of the Greek participle is especially 
demonstrated. Here, too, the exegete faces the more puzzling alterna- 
tives. These participles never have the article; they stand in gender- 
number-case agreement with some noun or other substantive in the 
sentence, yet not as a "modifier" but as a connecting point for some 
element in some subordinating relation to the verb of the sentence. 
Whereas the adjectival participle is the equivalent of a relative clause, 
the verbal participle is the equivalent of an adverbial clause or is 
involved as an integral part of the principal "verb phrase." 

Adverbial Participles 

There are two main categories of verbal participles, the first and 
most frequent being the adverbial, which includes the first three cate- 
gories in my tabulation. The first of these is a general one and properly 
should include those listed here in the second and third category. For 
convenience these subclasses are listed separately because of some 
special considerations. 

Adverbial (General) 

Adverbial participles "modify the verb," hence the term. They 
describe the circumstances,^ or "set the stage," under which the action 

'61.2% of the total. 

*There is some confusion over the use of the term circumstantial by the gram- 
marians. W. W. Goodwin, Greek Grammar, rev. by C. B. Gulick (Boston: Ginn, 1930) 
329-33, and most of the classical grammars as well as some NT grammars, use the 
term for the entire category which I have called Adverbial, and indeed it makes a very 
appropriate name for it. E. D. Burton, Syntax of Moods and Tenses in New Testament 
Greek (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1897) 169, 173, followed by Dana and Mantey, 
A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (New York: Macmillan, 1927) 226, 
and many others, use this term to designate one sub-division of this group (the one 
called by Goodwin Any attendant circumstance) and the term Adverbial for the entire 
group. To avoid this confusion, I have chosen to used Adverbial as the general title. 

boyer: the classification of participles 169 

of the verb takes place. These circumstances may be practically any 
which may be expressed by true adverbs, answering to such questions 
as when? where? in what way? by what means? why? under what 
circumstances? Grammarians have usually summed up these adverbial 
uses as time, cause, manner, means or instrument, purpose, condi- 
tion, concession, and attendant circumstances. 

The present study has made no attempt to sub-classify these 
adverbial participles under these headings, for several reasons. The 
size of the task (almost 3,500 instances), the subjectivity of the task 
(each one must be decided on the implications of the context alone, 
and frequently several choices seem equally plausible), and the limita- 
tions of publication (a mere listing would probably fill a whole issue 
of this Journal) have, at least for the present, made it impractical, in 
spite of the conviction that such a study would be very useful. 

Only rarely is it possible to translate a Greek adverbial participle 
into an English participle. When it is not possible to do so, then the 
alternative becomes the use of a subordinate adverbial clause. To 
make this translation it is necessary (1) to decide what adverbial idea 
is being expressed (time, cause, manner, condition, etc.), (2) to choose 
the proper conjunction to express that idea (when, while, since, if, 
etc.), (3) to make the substantive with which the participle agrees the 
subject of the clause, and (4) to select the proper English tense to use. 
These are not always easy choices, and they demand a hermeneutical 
sensitivity as well as a rather sophisticated understanding of the Greek 
tense system. 

Adverbial participles use the aorist tense slightly more frequently 
than the present (52% compared with 44%; this is the only category of 
participles where the present is not more frequent than the aorist). 
The case used is most commonly the nominative (85%), but the other 
cases (except vocative) are all used. The case, of course, is determined 
not by its adverbial character but by its agreement with its governing 
substantive, which may stand in any case relationship to the sentence. 

Genitive Absolute 

A genitive absolute is simply an adverbial participle, and all that 
has been said about adverbial participles in the preceding section is 
applicable here. Although usually temporal, they may express any of 
the adverbial ideas already described and their meaning must be ap- 
proached in the same manner. A separate category has been made 
only because of a peculiar explanation for the choice of the case used. 
Normally the participle relates the adverbial quality it expresses to 
some noun or other substantive in the sentence. Its agreement with 
that noun determines its case. When, however, the adverbial quality is 
related to some substantive which is not a part of the main sentence, 


and thus has no "case relation" to it (such a structure is called "abso- 
lute" in the grammars), the Greek idiom arbitrarily uses the genitive 
case for such a disconnected noun and the participle agreeing with it.' 
In the classical period it would be used only when this was the situa- 
tion. But in later Greek, including the New Testament, this limitation 
was not always observed, and there are instances where a genitive 
absolute is used when the reference is to a word which is present in 
the sentence and has a case of its own. In most instances this occurs 
where the genitive absolute precedes the main clause, thus the word 
to which the participle refers would not yet be obvious to the hearer 
or reader. 

Not all adverbial participles in the genitive case are "absolute," 
however; they may simply be related to a word which has a proper 
genitive relationship to the sentence." 

Pleonastic Participles 

This special class of adverbial participles occurs frequently in the 
Gospels, Acts, and Revelation and is commonly agreed to reflect 
Semitic influence. As the term is used in this paper, it applies only to 
the participles X,eya)v and dTroKpiGeic; when they are used with verbs 
which in themselves also express in some way the concept of speech, 
such as "he taught saying," "he cried out saying," and "he answered 
saying." Aeyov occurs with a great variety of such words expressing 
speech, including dnoKpivonai and even Xeyco. 'AnoKpiGeic; occurs 
only with elTiov. The two occur often together, even combined.'^ 

Not all occurrences of X.ey(ov are pleonastic, only those which 
actually repeat an expression of speech. To illustrate, in Luke 1:67 
eTtpocprJTeuaev Xeywv is classified as pleonastic because Xeymv repeats 
the idea of speech involved in the verb 7tpo(pr|T8ucD. But in the preced- 
ing verse Xeyovteg is classified simply as adverbial, because its use 
with eGevTo does not involve any redundancy. 

Redundancy or pleonastic are terms which speak of style rather 
than grammar. When these participles are so classified, it simply 
means that they reflect a style of speaking which was probably quite 
native to the early Christians with Semitic background, whose first 
language was probably Hebrew. But such Greek style would probably 
have sounded strange to most Greek-speakers of that time, much the 

'Compare the ablative absolute in Latin, the nominative absolute in English. 

'"For a fuller discussion, with examples, cf. A. Buttman, A Grammar of the New 
Testament Greek (Andover: Warren F. Draper, 1891) 315-16. 

"Examples found are 13: Matt 26:7; Luke 2:13 (twice); Acts 17:16, 19:34; 1 Cor 
8: 10; 2 Cor 7: 1 5; 2 Thes 1 :8; Heb 1 1 : 1 2; 1 Pet 1 :7; 2 Pet 2:4; Rev 1 : 1 5. 1 7:8. 

'^Cf. Luke 14:3, dKOKpiBeii; 6 'IriaoOc; einev . . . Xeycov. . . . Such expression un- 
doubtedly reflects Hebrew: nas""! . . . ]V''^ or some similar construction. 

boyer: the classification of participles 171 

same as Elizabethean English occasionally sounds strange to present- 
day speakers of English. There is nothing in this idiom that is "ungram- 
matical," but it is unidiomatic and simply embodies a literalistic formal 
translation style from Hebrew to Greek. As it stands it is an adverbial 
participle, probably of manner. 

Supplementary Participles 

The second type of verbal participle is involved directly with the 
main verb and in effect with it forms a verb-chain. Robertson says, 
"the term supplementary or complementary is used to describe the 
participle that forms so close a connection with the principle verb 
that the idea of the speaker is incomplete without it. . . . It fills out 
the verbal notion."'^ Turner compares it with the adverbial or cir- 
cumstantial use: "The circumstantial ptc. differs from a supplemen- 
tary ptc. in that the latter cannot without impairing the sense be 
detached from the main verbal idea, whereas the circumstantial is 
equivalent to a separate participial clause."'" They occur in conjunc- 
tion with specific verbs and types of verbs; frequently they are the 
same verbal ideas as use the participle in English, although certainly 
not always. For convenience I shall use the categories listed by 

Periphrastic Participle 

Construction of tenses and moods by using a participle with an 
"auxiliary" verb, thus producing a periphrastic or "round-about" ex- 
pression, was always a part of the Greek verb system, but by classical 
standards it became much more common in Hellenistic Greek. The 
tendency seems to be a natural one, occurring in other languages as 
well (compare English). In fact, to an English-speaking student of NT 
Greek, t^v SiSdoKtov seems much more natural for "he was teaching" 
than the inflected form, ^5i5aaKEv. Mark and Luke use this peri- 
phrastic construction much more commonly than the other NT 
writers.'^ It may be another reflection of Hebrew grammar formally 
translated into Greek since HTl plus the participle is common in second 
temple Hebrew. 

'^A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research {Nashville: Broadman, 1934) 1119. 

'""Nigel Turner, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 3: Syntax (Edinburgh: 
T.& T.Clark, 1963) 153. 

'^Robertson, Grammar, 1119-24. 

'*The rate per 1000 words of text is: Luke, 3.49; Acts, 3.14; Mark, 2.48; John, 
2.04; Matt, 1.31, Heb, 1.21; Paul, 1.19; General epistles, 1.05; Rev, 1.01. 


The auxiliary verb is almost always the present or imperfect of 
eifii. Some grammarians tentatively list yivo^iai and unapxco as also 
involved, but to the present writer a participle occurring with these 
verbs seems more probably to be understood as supplementary (see 

Participles used in this construction are the present (153 times) 
and perfect (115 times), perhaps also the aorist (two very doubtful 
instances).'^ The case used is almost always the nominative, since the 
participle is in a sense a subjective complement of the copulative verb, 
requiring that the case be the same as that of the subject. The two 
instances where the periphrastic participle is accusative'* are actually 
following that rule; in one case the auxiliary is an infinitive, which 
has its "subject" in the accusative; in the other the auxiliary is itself a 
participle which modifies (and therefore has as its "subject") an ac- 
cusative pronoun. 

Usually the participle follows the auxiliary; it precedes in only 28 
instances. In a few cases a participle has been identified as periphrastic 
when an auxiliary is not present but seems to be implied by the sense 
of the context or by parallels where the same construction has the 

There is necessarily some ambivalence between the periphrastic 
participle and a participle functioning as a predicative adjective, al- 
ready discussed above. Indeed, N. Turner says, "In the same way as 
the ordinary adj. the ptc. may fulfill the role of a predicate and 
answers either to the subject or the direct complement of the preposi- 
tion. In this way, with elvai and yiveaOai the ptc. forms a peri- 
phrastic tense. "^'^ It is hard to see how i^v doGevfov (John 11:1) would 
be different if it were f|v doGevTig; or 'iva r\ xctpd r\\iGiv f\ 7re7r>.r|p(o- 
|ievr| (1 Jn 1:4) if it were f\ ■KXr\pr\(;. Especially is this true when the 
participle occurs in a list of parallel predications alongside an adjective 
or other descriptive phrase.^' 

In meaning, the periphrastic tenses seem in many instances to be 
no different from their inflected counterparts. Perhaps the most that 
can be said is that, while the simple present tense, for example, is 

"Luke 23:19, P>.r|6eiq; 2 Cor 5:19, Geiievoq. The strangeness of the first of these is 
underscored by the textual variants which occur; one changing the form to perfect, 
PepXrl^levo(;, the other omitting the participle altogether. The other example is com- 
plicated by differing interpretations of the first two participles (are they periphrastic or 
circumstantial?) and the parallelism in sense between this clause and the final clause of 
the preceding verse. 

'*Luke 9:18, Col 1:21. 

"Cf. i^ov i^v (Matt 12:4) with £^6v (Acts 2:29); also with other similar words, 
such as 5eov, napov, rrpETtov, ou^(pepov. 

^"Turner, Grammar, 158. 

^'Cf. Luke 1:7, Rom 15:4, Eph 2:12, Rev 1:18, etc. 

boyer: the classification of participles 173 

capable of a variety of meanings, the periphrastic seems always to 
require or to emphasize the continuing action sense. 

"Imperatival" Participles 

Some grammarians distinguish another use of the participle in 
which it seems to stand as the main verb of the sentence in a context 
which requires that it be understood as imperative; others strongly 
disagree. ^^ The instances cited may easily be explained as depending 
on some other verb present, or by understanding an ellipsis of an 
imperative copula. The present writer would in every case adopt the 
latter alternative, leaving no examples to present as imperatival parti- 
ciples. However, in recognition of this situation, I have chosen to list 
some of the most likely examples in this special category for compari- 
son and study. 

The most notable examples are found in the list of admonitions 
in Romans 12:9-19. Beginning three verses earlier (v 6), this series 
proceeds without a governing verb expressed. The first eight admoni- 
tions seem to require a verb to be supplied with the sense, "Let us do 
it . . ." ("If it is a prophecy which has been given to us, [let us 
prophesy] according to . . ."), a simple ellipsis of a verb easily supplied 
from the context. The pattern changes in v 9a, where the verb to be 
supplied is the imperative of the copulative verb, eoxo). In vv 9b- 13 
the series continues with fourteen more exhortations, twelve of which 
have a participle and two have an adjective expressing the content of 
the exhortation. It would seem most logical that these also be con- 
sidered elliptical, either as periphrastic imperative verbs or as predi- 
cate adjectives, in either case with the imperative copulative verb^^ to 
be supplied. The series ends (w 19b-21) with seventeen more admo- 
nitions, seven of which are again participles, interspersed with nine 
regular imperative verbs and one infinitive which probably should be 
supplied with a governing verb such as napaKaXib (cf. v 1). This 
cluster of participles seem most naturally to be understood as depend- 
ing on an imperative supplied from the context, rather than an ex- 
ample of a distinct class of participles. 

This situation is similar in the other examples listed. In 2 Cor 
8:23, 24 a long sentence is without a single finite verb; v 23 requires 

"Supporting this "main verb" use of the participle is J. H. Moulton, A Grammar 
of New Testament Greek, vol. 1: Prolegomena (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1908) 180- 
84. Opposing it is Buttman, Grammar, 290-94. Robertson, Grammar, 1132-35, takes a 
mediating position; he shows that these uses can be understood as anacoluthon or 
ellipsis, but awkwardly. In practice he recognizes them. 

The plural nominative participle and the pattern of speech in vv 14, 16, 19-21 
point to the second person plural imperative eaxe (or perhaps yiveoGe). eate (impera- 
tive) is never found in the NT. 


supplying a main verb (one which is not very obvious) and the copula- 
tive verb twice; v 24 seems most naturally to require the imperative 
eoTCoaav with the participle ev5eiKvu|i£voi. In 1 Pet 2:18, 3:1, 7 three 
participles seem to be in parallel structure, all depending on a main 
verb in 2:13, the imperative i)7ioTd7T|Te. This subject of submission 
continues throughout the section and includes three specific groups; 
each is introduced by a participle agreeing in number and case with 
the subject of that governing verb. Thus they are not standing apart 
as separate finite verbs (i.e., imperatival participles), but are simply 
amplifications applying the main verb to three groups. English idiom 
finds it much easier to make three distinct sentences. 

Complementary Participle 

Robertson uses this narrower designation to include a variety of 
verbs which sometimes take a supplementary participle,^'* but he does 
so without assigning a descriptive name to the type of verb involved. 
Blass-Debrunner labels them "verbs denoting a modified sense of 'to 
be' or 'to do'."^^ They are verbs which in classical Greek used the 
supplementary participle mostly in the nominative case, but this use is 
greatly diminished in NT Greek. Here this group includes such verbs 
as (a) uTrdpxci) (twice) = to be, exist; TrpoiJTcdpxco (3 times) = to be 
first; to be continually; 5iaT£>.8to (once), e7ri)iev(o (twice) and ^evto 
(once); (b) to stop, to cease, to finish, to grow weary; navo^iai (12 
times), 5iaX,ei7ico (once), jeXta) (once), ^yKaKeo) (twice): (c) to be 
hidden, to be manifest = ?^av6dv(JL) (once), cpaivo) (twice); (d) to come 
before, anticipate = TtpocpOdvw (once); (e) a modified sense of "to 
do" = KaX&c, noieio (4 times), xi 7ioieiT£ (twice). 

Verbs of Emotion 

Extremely rare in the NT, this study has listed only two examples, 
one each with CLyaXXmC,Gi (Acts 16:34) and Tp£|iO) (2 Pet 2:10). Three 
instances with xctipw are sometimes cited as examples, but they seem 
more probably to be adverbial (for example, John 20:20, "they re- 
joiced when they saw the Lord" rather than "rejoiced at seeing" or 
"rejoiced to see" or "saw him gladly"). 

Verbs of Perception and Cognition 

This most frequently occurring type of supplemental participle is 
sub-divided into (a) verbs of physical perception (seeing, hearing) and 

Robertson, Grammar, 1120-21. 
^'F. Blass and A. DeBrunner, A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other 
Early Christian Literature, trans, and rev. by Robert Funk (Chicago: University of 
Chicago, 1961)213. 

boyer: the classification of participles 175 

(b) verbs of mental perception or cognition (knowing, recognizing, 
finding, confessing, etc.). The verbs showing this construction in the 
NT, with the number of occurrences, are: ^Xenoi (15), elSov (89), 
Gedofiai (5), Gecopeco (22), opdto (and on-) (12), dKouto (34), TtapaKouto 
(1), EupiaKO) (51), 5eiKvu|ii (2), 5oKi|id^a) (1), T^yeonai (1), and exo) 
when it means "to consider" (2). 

Since the participle in this construction goes with the object of 
the main verb, it is usually in the accusative case. The genitives here 
are all with the verb dKouo), which takes the genitive when it speaks 
of physical perception. The few instances where this participle is in 
the nominative case are due to the passive voice of the governing 
verb, where the object of the action has become the subject in the 
nominative and the participle agrees. ^^ 

Participle in Indirect Discourse 

Closely related to the last group, but worthy of separate con- 
sideration, is the use of the participle in indirect discourse. It is rare in 
the NT, being replaced largely by the infinitive and the oxi clause. 
The participle is so used with dKouo) (6 times), eldov (once), and 
6pd(o (once) from those listed in the last category, plus other verbs of 
mental perception, yivcboKO) (3), eTtiyivtboKco (1), ^Ttiaxaiaai (1), Kaxa- 
voeo) (1), and opo^-oyeto (2). The contrast in meaning between dKouto 
used with a supplementary participle and dKouo) with a participle in 
indirect discourse will serve to illustrate the distinction. fJKouaav . . . 
aoTou ?iaXoCvTO(; (John 1:37 and frequently) clearly refers only to the 
physical perception; it says nothing about the content of what was 
heard. But dKouoaq . . . ovta oixia ei^ AiyuTriov (Acts 7:12) is not 
physical perception, he did not hear the grain being there. Rather, he 
heard "that there was grain. ..." The latter is clearly indirect dis- 
course; the direct would be "There is grain. ..." 

The participle modifies the object of the verb of perception and 
as such is in the accusative case. 

Appended to this discussion are three statistical tables. Tables 1 
and 2 give the total number of occurrences for each of the eighteen 
patterns or functions described, as well as a breakdown count by 
tense and case for each. This information may be useful to the NT 
Greek student in pursuing these studies further, for purposes of com- 
parison and evaluation of their magnitude and relative importance. 
Table 3 gives additional statistical information relating to one cate- 
gory, the periphrastic participle. 

"Matt 1:18, 17:30; Phil 3:9; Rev 20:15. The other is Rev 5:12, where the ellipsis 
makes it difficult to account for the case. 


The fact that about one word in every twenty in the Greek NT is 
a participle, together with the oft-heard comment from students that 
participles are one of the most difficult parts of the language to 
master, underscores the importance and need for any help available. 
If this study meets any part of that need its purpose will be realized. 

boyer: the classification of participles 







VO — 00 \o 
<N O -^ — ' 

— oo 

O -^ so O 

m so fN fN 
fN r-~ m t^ 

— w^ 

so so <N 
— m 

00 ir) o o 

— m r~ 

>ri 1/^ <ri in 

ro — OS 

— so r- r- 

m — 

Z < 0- 
D- Z < D- 

< < z < 

Z 0- a. 















_ _ <N 


r<-i oo rn 
ON m o 
I/-) — ^ _ 

■rj- — «/^ fN 



— d t^ — 

t^ ON 1^ Tf 

— — ro ON 

— — (N 

OO rn O >/^ 

-i-( C _ <L» 

^ o ■= £2 

■U E u 

^ uj ol 

_ -^ '■" 

"5 < rt 

.S ^ c o 

fe O O Q. 

_ — ♦; ca 

h- ■■= 













Q - 

JJ 1) 1) o ^ 

■S > > > - 




Ol — 


Composition of Periphrastic Tenses 

with Present 

with Perfect 

with Aorist 

Auxiliary Verb 


























19 Periphrastic 

37 Periphrastic 

Present Ind. 

Perfect Ind. 













1 Periphrastic 

12 Periphrastic 

Present Subj. 

Perfect Subj. 





1 Periphrastic 
Present Inf. 




2 Periphrastic 
Perfect Part. 









2 (?) 



















118 Periphrastic 

56 Periphrastic 

2 Periphrastic 


















13 Periphrastic 

6 Periphrastic 


Future Perfects 

♦Bracketed forms indicate probable examples of ellipsis, the bracketed word to be 
supplied to complete the sense. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 181-195 


Jonathan Selden 

Viewed historically and theologically, the apologetical views of 
Thomas Aquinas. Martin Luther, and Philip Melanchthon may be 
understood in terms of a dialectical schema, that is, in relationship to 
one another these three views fall into the pattern of thesis-antithesis- 
synthesis. If the relationalist apologetic of Aquinas is viewed as a 
thesis position, then the reformed apologetic of Luther stands in anti- 
thesis to Aquinas and scholastic rationalism. Although Melanchthon 
upheld Luther 's biblical apologetic during his early career, he diverged 
from this reformed position in later life. His apologetic, then, may be 
described as a synthesis of Aquinas' rationalist view and Luther's 
scriptural view. Although the Protestant tradition eventually strayed 
toward a more scholastic view of apologetics, with Martin Luther we 
have a clear example of a thoroughly reformed and thoroughly biblical 

THROUGHOUT the history of the church great effort has been 
undertaken to provide an adequate defense of the Christian reU- 
gion. In Athens at the Areopagus, the apostle Paul gave a defense of 
his faith against the Stoics and Epicureans, reasoning with them that, 
although they were religious, their religion was false. Beginning with 
"the God who made the world and everything in it," Paul asserted 
that man, "God's offspring . . . should not think that the divine being 
is like gold or silver or stone — an image made by man's design and 
skill" (Acts 17:17, 24, 29; NIV). Paul's defense began with an un- 
proven assumption of God as Creator, not with human speculation 
about divinity. It was to counter Greek speculation about divinity 
that Paul built his defense of the Christian faith. 

The challenge of Greek speculation did not end with Paul's 
encounter at the academy in Athens. Throughout the first several 
centuries of church history, various speculative heresies such as Arian- 
ism and Gnosticism threatened to stifle the Christian religion. The 
early church, however, responded as Paul did, basing its defense. 


often embodied in a creed, upon the revelation of God. Such creeds 
as those of Nicea and Chalcedon affirmed the revealed truth of the 
deity of Christ and the tri-unity of the God-head. 

As the Church developed as an institution, and as it granted 
more and more authority to its bishops, especially the bishop at 
Rome, it subsequently moved from its creedal foundation and espousal 
of scriptural supremacy. This development continued until the author- 
ity of scriptural revelation was matched by the authority of church 
councils and tradition. The prominent challenge against which Paul 
and the ancient church had successfully defended their faith — human 
speculation and non-revealed authority — progressively became a domi- 
nant aspect of the Medieval Church. 

In the course of Medieval Christianity the antagonist assumed 
the role of the protagonist. Although it was once regarded by Paul as 
Christianity's enemy, Greek rationalism was adopted as a means for 
the defense of the faith. 

This development was to reach its apex in the revered, if not 
"canonized," work of Thomas Aquinas. Though the Church had not 
always been aware of the growing role of reason, Thomas Aquinas 
consciously employed human reason, and thus human authority, in 
his defense of the Christian religion. His extensive use of Aristotle's 
non-Christian philosophy attests to this. It is understandable that 
Aquinas adopted the use of free and autonomous human reason, 
since in his semi-Pelagian view of God and man he had already 
adopted the concept of a free and autonomous human will. But with 
Martin Luther's reformation Aquinas' medieval apologetic and semi- 
Pelagianism met a biblical response. 

Because he recognized the supremacy of divine authority over all 
areas of life and its direct relationship to the defense of the Christian 
religion, the great reformer Martin Luther completely rejected Aqui- 
nas' apologetic along with medieval semi-Pelagianism. Luther's apol- 
ogetic necessarily differed from that of Aquinas because of his view of 
scriptural authority. In apologetics as in soteriology Luther began 
with a free and sovereign God, not with human merit and reason. 
Based on his acceptance of divine revelation as the sole and supreme 
standard for man in all areas of life, including apologetics, Luther's 
defense of the faith in both method and content was antithetical to 
the rationalist apologetic of Thomas Aquinas. 

Philip Melanchthon, Luther's comrade in the German reform 
movement, also differed from Aquinas and medieval Christianity. 
However, he returned somewhat to a synergistic concept of salvation. 
His synergism, his concept of human freedom, and his view of revela- 
tion as a limited authority for man allowed Melanchthon to stray to a 
more scholastic, less consistently reformed apologetic. Although he 

selden: biblical apologetics 183 

was a leader of the reformation, in some respects Philip Melanchthon 
synthesized the scholastic apologetic of Thomas Aquinas and the 
biblical apologetic of Martin Luther. 

Apologetics by nature is a broad, interdisciplinary activity. No 
apology of any sort, be it philosophical or theological, is free from 
the epistemology which is its basis for acquiring truth. To defend 
truth it is necessary first to acquire truth. In many respects, apologe- 
tics and epistemology cannot be distinguished. Thus, in apologetics 
one's concept of authority is central, and in Christian apologetics 
then, the questions of epistemology, authority, and scripture must be 

I. the thesis: medieval apologetics 

"Scholasticism is the term given to the theology of the Middle 
Ages."' No single figure embodied medieval scholasticism better than 
Thomas Aquinas. His Summa Theologica and Summa Contra Gentiles 
stand as the most significant examples of medieval scholasticism. 
"With Scholasticism we come to a well worked out and a detailed 
epistemology. . . ."^ The scholastic epistemology of Aquinas, however, 
was not identical with the scriptural epistemology of the Apostle 
Paul. Aquinas' scholastic epistemology in effect began with human 

The first thing to note about the approach of Thomas is that he begins 
his identification of God ... by means of the natural reason. In other 
words at the outset of his theology and controlling everything that he 
says he not only assumes but assures us that reason can prove the 
existence of God.^ 

In the Summa Theologica Aquinas contended, 

The Apostle Paul says: "The invisible things of Him are clearly seen, 
being understood by the things that are made" (Rom 1:20). but this 
would not be unless the existence of God could be demonstrated 
through the things that are made; for the first thing, we must know of 
anything is, whether it exists. The existence of God can be proved in 
five ways.'' 

Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, vol. 5 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1907) 587. 

Cornelius Van Til, A Survey of Christian Epistemology. (Phillipsburg, NJ: Pres- 
byterian and Reformed, 1977) 56. 

Cornelius Van Til, A Christian Theory of Knowledge. (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1969) 169. 

Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica in The Basic Writings of Thomas Aquinas, 
vol. 1, ed. Anton C. Pegis (New York: Random House, 1945) 22. 


This contention illustrates medieval scholasticism's attempt to uphold 
dogma through dialectical argumentation, independent of scripture.^ 

In order to prove the existence of God, Aquinas made human 
reason his epistemological starting point. "Scripture," asserted Aqui- 
nas, "is not part of the philosophical disciplines discovered by human 
reasons."^ Although scripture is necessary for salvation since "certain 
truths which exceed human reason should be made known to [man] 
by divine revelation"^ that man might obtain salvation, it is not 
essential for epistemology. Scripture could be called ultimate as it 
relates to salvation, but not basic as it relates to epistemology. "We 
must bear in mind," wrote Aquinas, "that there are two kinds of 
sciences. There are some which proceed from principles known by the 
natural light of the intellect, such as arithmetic and geometry and the 
like. There are also some which proceed from principles known by 
the light" of revelation.* For Aquinas, philosophy deals with those 
truths which can be proved by the "natural light" of reason, while 
theology is concerned with the unprovable realm of faith. Natural 
theology, according to Aquinas, is a combination of theology and 
philosophy, an overlapping of these two sciences which can be ex- 
perienced and proven.^ Aquinas made his proofs for God's existence, 
i.e., his concept of natural theology, the central aspect of his system. 

"Scholasticism has traditionally been associated with the revival 
of philosophy which followed the rediscovery of Aristotle, whose 
work was mediated to the Middle Ages through Arab and Jewish 
philosophy.""' Aristotle's logic had been employed by other religions, 
e.g., Islam, in an apologetic manner. Likewise then, Christian scholars 
of medieval Europe employed Aristotle's "natural reason" as a basis 
for their defense of the Christian religion. At the height of the church- 
dominated Middle Ages Aquinas incorporated an alien apologetical 
method into his defense of the Christian faith. 

Aquinas provides perhaps the most significant demonstration of 
Aristotelian apologetics in his "proofs" for the existence of God. 
Aquinas' five ways — his five demonstrations of the existence of a 
supreme being — epitomize his apologetical priority of reason before 
revelation. In each of his "proofs," Aquinas drew a rationalistic argu- 
ment from Aristotle's philosophy. Each of his arguments began with 
an observable phenomenon such as the existing world and upon that 

'Schaff, History, 5. 588. 
Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 5. 
'ibid., 6. 
'Ibid., 7. 

W. T. Jones, A History of Western Philosophy, (New York: Harcourt, Brace & 
World, 1952) 2. 213. See also Summa Theologica, 5-10. 

'"Per Erik Persson, Sacra Doctrina: Reason and Revelation in Aquinas (Philadel- 
phia: Fortress, 1957) 3. 

selden: biblical apologetics 185 

premise asserted the logical deduction of an uncaused cause or an 
unmoved mover, God. 

In the world of sensible things we find there is an order of efficient 
causes. There is no case known in which a thing is found to be the 
efficient cause of itself, for it would be prior to itself, which is impos- 
sible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity. . . . 
Therefore it is necessary to admit a first cause, to which everyone gives 
the name God."" 

This type of argument "assumes the truth of a particular theory 
of knowledge. With certain adjustments of detail [Aquinas] takes 
over the Aristolelian position that all knowledge arises out of sensa- 
tion."'^ He stressed, 

the power of knowing cannot fail in the knowledge of the thing with 
the likeness of which it is informed. . . . The sight is not deceived in its 
proper sensible. . . . Sense falsity does not exist as known, as was stated 

It is ironic but no less true that the master scholastic Aquinas "tried 
to defend the truth of the church doctrines by employing the Aristo- 
telian method of reasoning."''* 

The irony in Aquinas' apologetic grew out of his semi-Pelagian 
view of God and man. Aquinas could begin his system with reason 
and logic since he believed that the destructive effects of sin are not 
found in man's intellect but in his will.'* Like Aristotle, Aquinas 
believed in a virtually unimpaired intellect, so it was possible for him 
to assert that man, in his epistemological and apologetical endeavors, 
could begin with sense perception and human reason. "Man," wrote 
Aquinas, "has free choice, or otherwise the councils, exhortations, 
commands, prohibitions, rewards and punishments would be in 
vain."'^ Since Aquinas viewed man as unaffected intellectually by the 
fall, he could formulate a "two-step process in presenting the case for 
Christianity." In the first step he employed Aristotlian philosophical 
argumentation as the foundation of his system, and then he completed 
his work by appealing to revealed Christian teaching.'^ Throughout 
his system Aquinas drew "a clear line of distinction between knowledge 

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 22. 
'^Gordon Clark, Thales to Dewey (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1957) 278. 

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 184. 

Van Til, Christian Epistemology, 57. 
'^Persson, Sacra Doctrina, 232. 

Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 787. 

Colin Brown, Philosophy and the Christian Faith (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1969) 33. 


and faith."'* This impHes that in the Thomistic system authority hes 
basically with man according to his natural knowledge, not in scripture 
accepted by man through faith. 

At the outset of the Summa Theologica, Aquinas argued for the 
necessity of scripture.'^ However, the importance for which he con- 
tended was only soteriological, not apologetical. Aquinas learned of 
salvation through faith and revelation but defended his faith externally 
and independently through the rationalism of Greek philosophy. Here, 
the Apostle Paul's antagonist — Greek rationalism — became the pro- 
tagonist of medieval scholasticism. In the view of one contemporary 
critic of scholasticism, 

where a theology is based partly upon the Christian revelation and 
partly upon philosophical ideas, the result is often a misguided hotch- 
potch. At best the end product is a mixture containing ideas which 
cancel each other out. At worst the alien philosophy has been so allowed 
to crowd out and transform that the result is scarcely recognizable as 
Christianity at all.^° 

That medieval Christianity turned to Aristotle for its method of 
philosophical defense indicates its failure to perceive the discrepancy 
between theistic and anti-theistic apologies.^' Understanding this dis- 
crepancy only became possible with the reformation of the medieval 


The Protestant Reformation, with its resounding challenges of 
sola scriptura, sola gratia, and sola fide^^ did not address only soteri- 
ological questions. The Thomistic natural apologetic met a formidable 
challenge in Reformation theology, which was based not on human 
reason but on divine authority revealed in scripture. ^^ No reformer 
stressed the supremacy of scriptural authority in all matters more 
insistently than Luther. Where Aquinas was the champion of medi- 
eval rationalism, Luther was the champion of the reformation prin- 
ciple of scriptural supremacy. Luther led the reformers who, "throwing 
off the yoke of human authority, and disparaging the Schoolman, 
returned to the fountain of Scripture, and restated its truths."^"* 

'^Persson, Sacra Docthna, 228. 
Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 5-6. 
"Brown, Philosophy, 35. 
Van Til, Christian Epistemology, 57. 
"James E. McGoldrick, "Three Principles of Protestantism," The Banner of Truth 
(Issue 232, January, 1983) 7-18. 
' Brown, Philosophy, 33-34. 
^"Schaff, History, 5. 592. 

selden: biblical apologetics 187 

With Luther, epistemology, authority, and scripture were much 
more interrelated than they were with Aquinas. This was so because 
Luther took his epistemology entirely from scriptural revelation. 
Therefore, although a study of Aquinas can begin with a considera- 
tion of his epistemology, since it was independent of scripture, no 
study of Luther can begin apart from his first principle, the self- 
revealed God of the Bible. While Aquinas based his system on rational- 
ism and revelation, Luther based his theology and apologetic solely 
on revelation. As part of his call to reform Luther decried rationalism. 

In this whole matter the first and most important thing is that we take 
earnest heed not to enter on it [reform] trusting in great might or in 
human reason, even though all power in the world were ours; for God 
cannot and will not suffer a good work to be begun with trust in our 
own power or reason." 

Despite this apparently categorical statement, caution is always 
in order when considering Luther's statements about reason. "Unless 
[the] Scholastic exaltation of reason is kept in mind when reading 
Luther, it is easy to misread his fulminations against reason. . . ."^^ 
Luther never denounced reason in general, since it is a gift from God; 
rather, he denounced improper usages of reason such as those made 
by Aquinas. Luther's epistemology, then, was the antithesis of scho- 
lasticism. "It was Luther's firm conviction that any attempt to defend 
the articles of the Christian faith by rational argumentation was the 
greatest folly. "^^ 

Let others decide for themselves what they have learned from scholastic 
theology. As far as I am concerned I know and confess that I have 
learned nothing from it but ignorance of sin, righteousness. Baptism, 
and the whole Christian life. I not only learned nothing (which could 
be tolerated), but what I did learn I only had to unlearn again. ^* 

Luther was well aware of Aristotle's philosophy and how it had 
become prominent in the church during the three centuries preceding 
him.^^ Nevertheless, he made no concessions to Aristotle or to Aqui- 
nas' use of Aristotle. Concerning Aristotle Luther wrote, "the Holy 
Scriptures and the Christian faith are little taught, and the blind, 

"An Open Letter to the Christian Nobility, 1520." In Works of Martin Luther 
(Grand Rapids: Baker, 1915) 2. 63-64. 

^*Siegbert W. Becker, TJie Foolishness o/ Got/ (Milwaukee: Northwestern, 1982) 8. 
"Ibid., 172. 
Quoted in Robert O. Preus, The Theology of Post- Reformation Lutheranism 
(St. Louis: Concordia, 1970) 235-36. 

""The Babylonian Captivity of the Church, 1520." In Works of Martin Luther 
2. 190. 


heathen master Aristotle rules alone, even more than Christ. In this 
regard my advice would be that Aristotle's [writings] . . . should be 
altogether discarded. . . ."^° Likewise, Luther assessed the scholastics' 
use of Aristotle: "they mix the dreams of Aristotle with theological 
matters, and conduct non-sensical disputations about the majesty of 
God, beyond and against the privilege granted them."^' From Luther's 
perspective, Aristotle was a heathen^^ standing in contradiction to 
scripture and therefore of no use to the Christian religion. Aristotle's 
writings drew men only further from the Bible." With the logic of 
Aristotle, Aquinas paved his own road to God with speculation. 
Luther abhorred this effort. "Nothing is more dangerous than to 
build one's own road to God and to climb up by our own specula- 
tion."^'' Aquinas, believing that man's intellect had survived the fall 
essentially unaffected and that man's will was free and thus able to 
choose good (i.e., truth), began his apologetic with human reason. 
Luther, however, contended that man cannot base his religion on 
human reason because man is fallen, his will bound to sin, and his 
intellect depraved. It is 

something fundamentally necessary and salutary for a Christian, to 
know that God foreknows nothing contingently, but that he foresees 
and purposes and does all things by his immutable, eternal, and infal- 
lible will. Here is a thunderbolt by which free choice is completely 
prostrated and shattered, so that those who want free choice asserted 
must either deny or explain away this thunderbolt, or get rid of it by 
some other means. ^' 

Furthermore, through the fall, man retained only 

a depraved intellect and will inimical and opposed to God which is able 
to think nothing except what is contrary to God. Whatever is in our 
intellect is error.^^ 

Because man is bound to sin and error he needs a divine, transcen- 
dent reference point, a standard by which he may live righteously, 
know truth, and correctly defend that truth. Apart from this external 

^""An Open LeUer to the Christian NobiHty, 1520." In Works of Martin Luther, 
2. 146. 

""Disputation on Indulgences, 1517." In Works of Martin Luther, 1. 46. 

""A Sermon on Keeping Children in School, 1530." In Works of Martin Luther, 
4. 173. 

""To the Councilmen of All Cities in Germany, 1524." In Works of Martin 
Luther, 4. 127. 

^''Becker, Foolishness of God, 15. 

""The Bondage of the Will, 1526." Luther's Works, ed. Philip S. Watson (Phila- 
delphia: Fortress, 1972) 33. 37. 

'^Quoted in Becker, Foolishness of God, 23. 

selden: biblical apologetics 189 

standard, man in his depraved state has no basis for knowledge. 
Unlike Aquinas, who implicitly demonstrated that man in his ability 
to defend Christianity rationally was at least to some degree his own 
authority, Luther claimed divine revelation as his sole authority. 
Knowledge of the triune God 

never would have been heard nor preached, would never in all eternity 
have been published, learned and believed, had not God himself re- 
vealed it.^^ 

The teaching of human experience and reason are far below the divine 
law. The Scripture expressly forbids us to follow our own reason, 
Deuteronomy xii, 'Ye shall not do . . . every man whatever is right in 
his own eyes,' for human reason ever strives against the law of God, as 
Genesis vi. says: 'Every thought and imagination of man's heart is only 
evil continually.' Therefore the attempt to establish or defend divine 
order with human reason, unless that reason has previously been 
established and enlightened by faith, is just as futile as if I were to 
throw light upon the sun with a lightless lantern, or rest a rock upon a 

Luther's apologetic rested on the revealed truth that the Christian 
faith could be 

proved [only] by the Scriptures, and not by temporal analogies and 
worldly reason. For it is written that the divine commandments are 
justified in and by themselves and not by external help.^' 

In contrast to Aquinas, Luther contended: 

It is most deplorable that we should attempt with our reason to defend 
God's word, whereas the word of God is rather our defense against all 
our enemies, as St. Paul teaches us. Would he not be a great fool who 
in the thick of battle sought to protect his helmet and sword with bare 
hand and unshielded head? It is no different when we assay with our 
reason, to defend God's law, which should rather be our weapon. "" 

Moreover, concerning scholastic apologetics, Luther stated: 

From this, I hope, it is clear that the flimsy argument of this prattler 
fails utterly, and, together with everything he constructs upon it is 
found to be without any basis whatever.'*' 

"Epistle Sermon, Twelfth Sunday after Trinity." In A Compend of Luther's 
Theology, ed. Hugh T. Kerr (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1966) 3. 

^'"The Papacy at Rome, 1520." In Works of Martin Luther, 1. 346. 
"ibid., 347. 
'"Ibid., 347. 
*'lbid., 347. 


Luther could accept no method of acquiring truth or defending truth 
which was not completely submissive to revelation. 

He wrote that the principles of the Lutheran Reformation can be de- 
fended by clear Scripture, and he went on to say that whatever cannot 
be so defended has no place in the Christian religion. It is the very 
nature of the Christian faith that it seeks no foundation on which to 
rest except the bare word of Scripture."^ 

On this point Luther was adamant, 

for once the pure and certain Word is taken away, there remains no 
consolation, no salvation, no life.''^ 

Even defending God's word was unacceptable to Luther, since this 
would elevate man to a place of authority and judgment over scripture. 
Man must not judge scripture; rather, he must judge according to 

Among Christians the rule is ... to hear, believe, and persevere in the 
Word of God, through which alone we obtain whatever knowledge we 
have of God and divine things. We are not to determine out of ourselves 
what we must believe about Him, but to hear and learn it from Him."*^ 

Not only did Luther view a rationalistic defense of Christianity as 
immoral, but also as utterly unnecessary, since God's Word is self- 
authenticating."*^ Concerning human, or rational, defenses of scripture 
Luther, with tongue in cheek wrote: 

What a splendid argument! I approve Scripture. Therefore I am supe- 
rior to Scripture. John the Baptist acknowledges and confesses Christ. 
He points to Him with his finger. Therefore he is superior to Christ. 
The Church approves the Christian faith and doctrine. Therefore the 
Church is superior to them. 

To refuse this wicked and blasphemous doctrine of theirs you have 
a clear text and a thunderbolt. Here Paul subordinates himself, an 
Angel from heaven, teachers on earth, and any other masters at all to 
Sacred Scripture. This Queen must rule, and everyone must obey, and 
be subject to, her. The Pope, Luther, Augustine, Paul, an angel from 

Becker, Foolishness of God, 170. 

''^"Lectures on Galatians, 1535." In Luther's Works, ed. Jaroslov Peiikan (Saint 
Louis: Concordia, 1963) 26. 77. 

""Sermons on the Gospel of St. John, 1530-32." In Luther's Works, 23. 237. 

'^"Psalm 1 10." In Luther's Works, 13. 237. 

"""'The Bablonian Captivity of the Church, 1520." In Luther's Works, 36. 107-8. 
See also Works of Martin Luther, 1. 347. 

selden: biblical apologetics 191 

heaven — these should not be masters, judges, or arbiters, but only 
witnesses . . . and Confessors of Scripture/^ 

It is no point of irony that Luther, the champion of justification 
through faith, believed that man possesses no authority in epistemol- 
ogy or apologetics, just as possesses no authority in his salvation. 
Sola schptura, the 

Protestant doctrine of the Bible, does away with the dualism of Scho- 
lastic epistemology. It is no longer possible for man to have true knowl- 
edge about anything apart from the Bible. And especially is it impossible 
to have any true knowledge about God apart from the Bible. ''^ 

With the Protestant endeavor to learn the distinctly scriptural doctrine 
of salvation came a Protestant desire to employ a distinctly scriptural 
apologetic which upheld, not denied, divine authority. In the work of 
Martin Luther this apologetic was firmly established. The responsi- 
bility of the reformation movement subsequent to Martin Luther, 
then, was the maintenance and development of Luther's distinctly 
scriptural apologetic. 


Following Luther's death, the mantle of leadership in the German 
Reformation fell to Philip Melanchthon. Melanchthon, however, did 
not maintain all of Luther's views, diverging from them on several 
significant issues, including apologetics. It was the continuing develop- 
ment'*' of Melanchthon's thought that allowed him to revert to several 
pre-Reformation concepts and thus to diverge from Luther's biblical 
defense of the faith. In this respect, it can be said that Melanchthon 
stood as a synthesis between scholastic and reformed apologetics. 

Melanchthon was born in 1497, when the humanist method of 
learning which characterized the northern Renaissance had already 
reached Germany. During his university years Melanchthon studied 
with several humanist scholars. While Luther had been educated in 
the scholastic tradition of the middle ages, Melanchthon was educated 
in the humanist tradition of the Renaissance. Following the completion 
of his degree, Melanchthon was recommended by his grand uncle, 
Reuchlin, one of the foremost humanists in Germany, to a faculty 
chair at the recently founded University of Wittenberg. 

"""Lectures on Galatians, 1535." In Luther's Works, 26. 57-58. 
""^Van Til, Christian Epistemology, 65. 

"*' Melanchthon's Loci Communes underwent numerous revisions and editions 
between the years 1521 and 1555. 


At Wittenberg, under the influence of Luther, Melanchthon for 
the moment set aside his classical humanist studies, giving his full 
attention to the study of Greek and theology. Soon he was at the 
forefront of the Reformation as one of its most significant leaders. By 

1520 he had written on Pauline doctrine against scholasticism, and by 

1521 he had published the first edition of the Loci Communes, a 
paramount work of the Reformation. These and other early writings 
appear to demonstrate that he underwent a clear and final break from 
his earlier notions. Repeatedly, he denounced the rationalism of 
scholasticism and upheld the reformation principles of the supremacy 
of scripture^'' and justification through faith alone. ^' 

Under the influence of Luther, Melanchthon set aside his belief 
in the importance of human merit in salvation. He came to realize 
that rationalism had crept into the synergistic soteriology of medieval 
Christianity.^^ He realized that man is not free to earn the merit of 
Christ, but bound to sin. Because all men are depraved, no one by his 
own ability can avoid sin." Since "man by his natural powers can do 
nothing but sin,"*'' all human powers are impure. This implies that, 
just as the human will is insufficient for acquiring salvation, human 
reason is insufficient for acquiring and defending a true knowledge of 

Melanchthon attacked Scholasticism because it upheld the free- 
dom of the will as a meritorious agent in salvation. "In place of faith, 
the anchor of the conscience. Scholastic theology has taught works 
and satisfactions by men."** Melanchthon knew the Scholastics were 
wrong*^ when he wrote, "all that stupid and godless men have written 
about free will and justification by works is nothing but a pharisaic 

Inspired by his identification with Luther,*^ Melanchthon's anti- 
Scholastic attitude carried over from soteriology to philosophy. "How 
corrupt," he wrote, "are all the theological hallucinations of those 
who have offered us the subtleties of Aristotle instead of the teachings 
of Christ."*^ Early in life Melanchthon rejected the teachings of 

'"Philip Melanchthon, "Paul and the Scholastics, 1520." In Selected Writings, 
trans. Charles Leander Hill (Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1962) 48. 

'Philip Melanchthon, "Circular Themes, 1520." In Selected Writings, 59. 

"Philip Melanchthon, "Loci Communes, 1521." In Melanchthon and Bucer, ed. 
Wilhelm Pauk (LCC; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1969) 23. 

"Ibid., 28. 

'"Ibid., 47. 

"ibid., 43. 

'*Ibid., 26. 

"ibid., 29. 

'^Ibid., 10. 

'"Ibid., 19. 

selden: biblical apologetics 193 

Aristotle, the same teachings which Aquinas had employed in his 
attempt to know and to prove God apart from scripture. Melanchthon 
wrote "not to call students away from the Scriptures to obscure and 
complicated arguments, but rather to summon them to the Scrip- 
tures,"^" for "it is not necessary to believe in any other articles than 
the ones Scripture approves."^' In 1521 there was nothing Melanch- 
thon desired more 

than that all Christians be occupied in greatest freedom with the divine 
Scriptures alone and be thoroughly transformed into their nature. For 
since the godhead has portrayed its most complete image in them, it 
cannot be known from any other source with more certainty or accu- 
racy. Anyone is mistaken who seeks to ascertain the nature of Chris- 
tianity from any other source except canonical Scripture. For how 
much of its purity the [Scholastic] commentaries lack! In Scripture you 
will find nothing unworthy of honor; in the commentaries how many 
things depend on philosophy, on the judgement of human reason! And 
these clash absolutely head on with spiritual judgement. "^^ 

Although early in his career he rejected Scholasticism and its use 
of ancient philosophy, viewing it as "darkness and untruth,"^^ Melanch- 
thon's views were always developing and even then beginning to 

In his early years Melanchthon clearly resembled Luther in his 
stance against Scholasticism and its dependence upon human reason. 
Yet, a study of his later writings, especially those composed after the 
death of Luther in 1546, show a growing dependence upon both the 
human will in salvation and, subsequently, human reason in knowing 
God. This can best be explained in terms of his strong humanist 
background and later continuation of humanist studies related to his 
establishment of educational curriculum for German schools and uni- 

In the 1533 edition of his Loci Communes Melanchthon omitted 
the disparaging remarks he had made against the Scholastics and 
their philosophical approach in the 1521 edition.^'' Although in 1521 
Melanchthon repudiated any concept of free will and denied any 
capacity of natural man for knowing God, in the 1555 edition of Loci 
he wrote of man's "natural light" and active will, and even included 
proofs for the existence of God.^^ 

"■"Ibid., 19. 

*' Melanchthon, "Paul and the Scholastics, 1520." In Selected Writings, 48. 
"Melanchthon, Loci Communes, 1521, 19. 
'^Quoted in ibid., 7. 

^''Richard R. Caemmerer, "The Melanchthonian Blight." CTM 18 (1947) 325. 
Philip Melanchthon, "Loci Communes, 1555." trans, and ed. Clyde L. Man- 
schreck (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1965). 


Melanchthon's later view of salvation can be said to be reformed 
in that he advocated justification through faith. "God forgives us our 
sins," he wrote, "and accepts us, in that he imputes righteousness to 
us for the sake of the Son, although we are still weak and sinful. We 
must, however, accept this imputed righteousness with faith. "^^ 
Melanchthon certainly did not hold the same view as the Scholastics 
who claimed that "man merits forgiveness of sins through his own 
fulfillment of the divine law. . . ."^'' In his later view of the role of the 
human will, however, Melanchthon differed with Luther. Whereas 
Luther viewed man's will as passive in salvation, Melanchthon viewed 
man's will as active. "We should not think that a man is a piece of 
wood or stone," in response to God's work of salvation.^* God "draws 
the one who is willing, not the one who resists. "^^ For Luther, the will 
of man is acted upon by God in salvation, but for Melanchthon (in 
1555) the will of man acts with God in accepting salvation. This 
synergistic concept of salvation was a significant step toward a syn- 
thesis of medieval and reformed beliefs. 

Not only could man's will choose salvation through faith, believed 
Melanchthon, but his reasoning capacities could gain a knowledge of 
God. In his later writings Melanchthon referred to man's natural 
ability to know God apart from scripture. In man is a natural under- 

that God is an eternal, omnipotent, wise, true, good, just, and pure 
being, who created all things, who wills that all rational creatures be 
like him in virtue and who will punish and remove the rational creatures 
who are repugnant to his wisdom and righteousness. 

This is a legal understanding of the law, and it remains in man 
even after he sins.^° 

By the "natural light" of his own nature, man could come to know 
God and uphold him in civil obedience. 

By nature all men know that there is an eternal omnipotent being full 
of wisdom, goodness, and righteousness, that created and preserves all 
creatures, and also by natural understanding, that this same . . . Lord is 
called God. Many wise people, therefore, such as Socrates . . . Aris- 
totle, and Cicero, have said that there is an almighty, wise, good, just 
God, and that we must serve this one Lord in obedience to the light he 
has built into our nature . . . ^' 

'*Ibid., 161. 
''Ibid., 75. 
"'Ibid., 60. 
''Ibid., 190. 
™Ibid., 128. 
"Ibid., 5. 

selden: biblical apologetics 195 

Revelation, then with its message of salvation, could be only supple- 
mentary to Melanchthon's naturalistic approach to God. Revelation 
only adds something to that which man himself can and ought to say 
about God.^^ With this and other similar claims, Melanchthon reverted 
toward Scholastic theology and in effect synthesized several of its 
elements with elements of the reformed faith. 

Melanchthon even came to use rational proofs for the existence 
of God in his commentary on Romans and later editions of the Loci 
Communes. These proofs were structured just as those used by Aqui- 
nas and the Scholastics, whom he had once condemned. Melanch- 
thon employed such concepts as the orderliness of nature, the rational 
nature of man, the necessity of a single first cause, and the teleolog- 
ical goal of a final cause, asserting that each of these necessitates the 
existence of God, therefore God exists. ^^ 

Whether these proofs in Melanchthon's scheme were merely to 
aid believers or intended to be used as common ground with unbe- 
lievers in defending the faith cannot be known with certainty. Melanch- 
thon did, however, elevate the capabilities of human reason and 
stressed this in his later theological discussions, whereas earlier he 
had denied that man had any ability to know God through reason. 
Because he elevated the role of natural reason, Melanchthon, like the 
scholastics before him, necessarily held revelation not in a position 
superior to reason, but coordinate with reason. 

Because he was a transitional figure whose thinking was con- 
stantly in flux, Melanchthon is a difficult person to evaluate. It is 
evident, however, that although he was once an advocate of Luther's 
biblical theology and scriptural method of defending that theology, 
Melanchthon drifted somewhat from the original views of the Lutheran 
reformation. This he did as he came to embrace certain elements of 
scholastic Christianity. Thus, Melanchthon shifted from the views of 
Luther to a position significantly closer to that of Aquinas. 

In the final analysis it was Martin Luther (in contrast to the 
scholasticism of Aquinas and the synergism of Melanchthon) that 
upheld the supreme authority of revelation in all matters. It was 
Luther who without compromise returned to the text of scripture, not 
only for the truth of God concerning knowledge and salvation, but 
also for his defense of that truth. Luther claimed no ability of his own 
either in salvation or apologetics. Rather, by faith, he obediently 
restated the truths of scripture, and upon those truths placed his 
complete confidence. 

Ibid., XXX. 
'ibid., xxix-xxx. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 197-203 




Gary G. Cohen and C. Norman Sellers 

In the majority of Christian educational institutions today artifi- 
cial pronunciations for NT Greek and OT Hebrew are used — often 
attempts at a recreation of the true ancient sounds. However, Modern 
Greek and Modern Hebrew voicings are in reality the most effective 
ways to teach these ancient biblical tongues. This is especially so 
because within the last forty years (a) audio-visual teaching aids have 
become available so that NT Greek can be taught as a living language, 
and (b) OT Hebrew is actually living again in Israel and can now be 
mastered with a new thoroughness. One difficulty is that the current 
generation of teachers was trained in the "older" pronunciations 
themselves and are thus hesitant to make such a change. 


EVERY foreign language offers unique learning experiences to those 
who study it. Often these experiences are only indirectly related 
to the actual study of the language and include the understanding 
and appreciation of their cultures, modes of thinking, and a general 
broadening of intellectual horizons. 

Students of NT Greek sometimes encounter statements such as 
"Say something in Greek," which are often the cause for some em- 
barrassment and bring into focus certain problems with pedagogical 
methodology often used in the study of ancient foreign languages. 
How to respond to such a request is particularly a problem for the 
student of NT Greek or OT Hebrew. The student might decline by 
explaining that NT Greek is studied only for translation purposes, 
not for conversation. But this sounds strange to anyone acquainted 
with the study of modern foreign languages, and one must wonder 
about a teaching method which prepares a student to verbalize little 
more than a list of words from his grammar book or the Greek NT, 
to say nothing of auditory comprehension or composition. 


And it is not only the Greek student who is at a verbal or 
auditory loss. Even after years of working with the language, and 
after having mastered the translation and exegesis of the NT, many 
Greek scholars would be incapable of communicating on the streets 
of Athens on the basis of their NT Greek knowledge alone. 

This raises several serious questions: Have the scholars of biblical 
languages always been content with translation alone? Have they 
always neglected the learning of the language in a way that would 
enable them to communicate with native speakers so as to benefit 
from the native intuition of usage and syntax? 

And what about students of biblical Hebrew? Is it not possible 
that even more than in the case of Greek, Modern Hebrew offers 
students an opportunity to understand their Hebrew Bibles better? Is 
it not possible that the pedagogical methodology of American biblical 
languages teachers is past due for extensive revision? 

As A. T. Robertson said, "this is indeed a knotty problem and 
has been the occasion of fierce controversy."' It is not the intention of 
the writers to feed this controversy, but it does seem that something 
needs to be said today in defense of treating NT Greek and OT 
Hebrew as older dialects of languages which are still living today. 


Invariably, when the subject of Greek pronunciation is broached, 
this is the question: How did native speakers during the apostolic 
period pronounce it? Robertson wrote that "we may be sure of one 
thing, the pronunciation of the vernacular was not exactly like the 
ancient literary attic [classical] nor precisely like the modern Greek 
vernacular, but veering more toward the latter."^ Howard recognizes 
the complicating factor of dialects when he observes that "it is prob- 
able that considerable differences existed between the Greek of Rome 
and Asia, Helios and Egypt. "^ 

It is generally recognized that it is impossible to reconstruct pre- 
cisely the pronunciation system of 1st century Greek speakers. And as 
a result some have preferred a reconstructed classical [attic] pronun- 
ciation, while others have preferred to use a real pronunciation that is 
capable of being tested by actual first-hand observation, the pro- 
nunciation of Modern Greek. 

It is Erasmus (1466-1536) who is generally credited with formu- 
lating the reconstructed classical pronunciation, generally popular in 

A. T. Robertson, A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of 
Historical Research (Nashville: Broadman, 1923), 236. 
^Ibid., 239. 
'Ibid., 41-42. 


the West today. At about the same time Reuchhn (1455-1522) intro- 
duced the Byzantine (modern) pronunciation in Western Europe. 

The debate over the relative merits of these two systems became 
so heated in Cambridge in 1542 that "it was categorically forbidden 
to distinguish ai from e or ei and oi from i, under penalty of expul- 
sion from the Senate, exclusion from the attainment of a degree, 
rustication for students, and domestic chastisement for boys."'* 

But in the end it was Erasmian pronunciation that won the day 
in the West. 

Comparison of the Two Systems 

One might think that the differences between the two systems are 
very large, but they are in fact less different than they are similar. 

There are only six letters of the alphabet in which there are 
pronunciation differences: 




b -boy 

V - victory 



g - got, but also y before e, as in yet 


d -dog 

th - the 


dz - ads 

z - zoo 


a - late 

ee - feet 

The larger differences are found in the pronunciation of the 
diphthongs, among which only ou is pronounced the same in both 
systems. The differences are: 




a - late/i - ice 

ee - feet 


oi - oil 

ee - feet 


uee - queen 

ee - feet 


ai - aisle 



eu - feud 

ev or ef (depending on the following sound) 


ow - cow 

av or af (depending on the following sound) 

In addition to these differences, two consonant clusters vary 
between the two systems: 

vx nt - sent nd - send 

(8VToX.ti = entole) (endole) 
[in mp - lamp b - biscuit 

It is clear, then, that except for the diphthongs and these conso- 
nant clusters, there is little difference between the two systems of 

'Ibid., 237. 


Since one cannot reconstruct precisely the Ist-century pronuncia- 
tion of NT Greek, one must make his decision about the system he 
will use based on the relative merits of each. The Erasmian system is 
based on the principle that each letter should be pronounced as dif- 
ferently as possible from every other letter. This is its chief peda- 
gogical advantage for beginning students, even though it is obviously 
phonetically naive. The similarity between Erasmian P and English 
"b" is pedagogically more simple to teach than the modern phono- 
logical value, "v." The same is true of ai and English ai in "aisle." 
Thus, if the student is not expected to speak to anyone in Greek, the 
relative ease with which the transition from English to Greek can be 
made is advantageous. But the advantage is very small indeed if in the 
process the student is giving up the possibility of learning to speak 
and hear the language — something which every modern foreign lan- 
guage teacher would consider a sine qua non. It is not a great burden 
to learn the extra few sounds necessary to make the transition from 
English to Modern Greek pronunciation as opposed to Erasmian 
pronunciation. After all, there are considerable differences between 
English and either system which must be mastered in any event. The 
supposed advantage of Erasmian pronunciation shrinks even further 
when it is realized that there is no unanimity even among Erasmians 
about how some of the consonants and vowels are to be pronounced. 
For example, ei is long a to some and long I to others; o (omicron) is 
long o to some and short o to others. 

There are other more obvious advantages to using Modern Greek 
pronunciation. One of these is that the student is learning the sounds 
of a living language. A knowledge of the modern pronunciation will 
make it possible for the student to converse with native speakers, 
whether in his own country or abroad, and this will be a great source 
of encouragement as he struggles to master the rudiments of the 

Another advantage of the modern pronunciation is that it makes 
it possible for the student to use a number of audio materials now 
becoming available. Spiros Zodhiates, for example, has produced 
cassette tapes of Machen's vocabularies and exercises, as well as both 
the Koine NT and Modern Greek NT. Those who have actually 
gained thinking, speaking, hearing, and composition facility in a 
second language will recognize immediately that such kinds of audio 
aids are invaluable. 

Yet another advantage of the Modern Greek pronunciation is 
that it makes much more possible an approach (however slight at 
first) toward the acquisition of language intuition. Native intuition it 
may never become, but the constant hearing and speaking of a real 
pronunciation system will undoubtedly facilitate a better intuition for 
semantic range and grammatical nuance. 


Should One Change? 

The circumstances today are much different from the time of 
Erasmus and even A. T. Robertson. Access to study opportunities in 
Greece is easier and audio materials such as easily duplicated cassettes 
are more readily available. In light of the advantages of the modern 
pronunciation and the easy access to modern Greek materials as well 
as native speakers of Modern Greek, there seems to be no compelling 
reason to retain the Erasmian pronunciation system. 


Many of the arguments in favor of Modern Greek pronunciation 
apply to the employment of Modern Hebrew pronunciation as well. 
But there are some differences. 

Hebrew is a Semitic language, is read from right to left, and has 
gutteral sounds not regularly utilized by speakers of English. Its 
alphabet is radically different from the Latin alphabet of English, and 
Hebrew words cannot be readily associated with English vocabulary 
for easy memorization. In general the mastery of Hebrew seems to 
procede more slowly than Greek, and its biblical literature is much 
more voluminous (about 70% of the Bible) as well as more varied. 

Professors of Hebrew, therefore, even more than those of Greek, 
must try hard to find teaching methods which produce good results. 
Some components which have proven to be highly successful in teach- 
ing Hebrew are: 

1. Adoption of the modern IsraeH pronunciation. 

2. Utilization of modern audio and video tools for learning. 

3. Integration of simple conversation into first and second year bib- 
lical Hebrew teaching. 

4. Emphasis on reading large quantities of Hebrew, even if this 
involves using some of the modern lexicon indexes, in contrast to 
the much out -dated and pedagogically weak method of forcing 
elementary students to spend the bulk of their time hunting for 
words in the lexicon.^ 

What precipitates these suggestions? In the first place it needs to 
be understood that Modern Hebrew was revived on the basis of 
biblical models, and where these could not be found, Mishnaic and 
later Hebrew models. Israeli Hebrew, thus, is much closer to biblical 
Hebrew than Modern Greek is to Koine. In fact, the average Israeli 

'Using such helps, for example, as T. A. Armstrong, D. L. Busby, and Cyril F. 
Carr, A Reader's Hebrew- English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zon- 
dervan Publishing House, 1980-); John Joseph Owens, Genesis (San Francisco: 
Harper & Row, 1978); Bruce Einspahr, Index to the Brown, Driver, & Briggs Hebrew 
and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody, 1976). 


high school student can read the OT fluently and older children can 
read it with better comprehension than some American Hebrew 
scholars, to say nothing of college and seminary students. Hebrew is a 
living language, which one can study and hear in the classrooms and 
on the streets of the land of the Bible, and there is now available a 
large mass of material from books to newspapers to tapes and records 
and Ulpan courses of every description. Israelis teach in schools all 
over the world, but for the serious student of Hebrew, the wise course 
is to follow in the footsteps of Jerome, who in the 4th century went to 
Bethlehem to learn Hebrew from native speakers. Israel is a country 
which is prepared for teaching Hebrew to all comers, and its teachers 
are very good indeed. 

American college and seminary students as well as teachers have 
the opportunity to benefit from this new availability of resources for 
learning the language of the OT. And Modern Hebrew provides the 
essential, but often neglected, ingredients for any language learning 
which will be truly meaningful: hearing, speaking, and composition. 
To neglect these in favor of reading only puts the student of biblical 
Hebrew at a disadvantage which slows progress immensely. If the 
exegete realizes, as do the teachers of any other modern language 
such as German or French, that all four aspects of language learning 
(hearing, speaking, composition, and reading) must be incorporated 
in the instructional process, he will immediately recognize the ad- 
vantage of using Modern Hebrew. Protestant evangelical Hebrew lin- 
guistic scholarship is far behind Israeli scholarship because it has 
refused to recognize this basic fact of language learning: one cannot 
approach native intuition (which should be the goal of all language 
learning) unless he incorporates all four aspects of language learning. 
The result is often a weakened understanding which sometimes results 
in artificial exegesis and translation. 

Modern Hebrew pronunciation follows the Sephardic (eastern 
Mediterranean and Spanish) pronunciation of the few consonants 
and vowels which differ from the pronunciation in the Ashkenazi 
(European and eastern European) and "Rabbinic" systems. The system 
has been adopted almost world-wide by Jews except in some syna- 
gogues. The main differences between Modern and the other systems 
is in the pronunciation of T, 1, n, and the vowels ^ and .. Israelis 
pronounce 1 as "d" (instead of dh without the dagesh), T as v (instead 
of w), and n as t (instead of th without the dagesh). Both ^ and . are 
pronounced like "a" in "father." Other differences between what one 
would hear in an American seminary and on the streets of Jeru- 
salem mostly involve the difference between words artifically pro- 
nounced, and words pronounced in flowing speech and real phonetic 


There is absolutely no compelling reason to continue the 
"American-Protestant" pronunciation of biblical Hebrew, whose 
original pronunciation cannot be accurately reconstructed in any 
case. Modern Hebrew is the key to a whole new world of OT study, 
and opponents only impoverish themselves and their students. 


On the basis, then, of the overwhelming advantages of using 
modern living pronunciation systems for the teaching of biblical Greek 
and Hebrew, we conclude that the path of the future ought to lie, and 
indeed will lie, in that direction. The transition from the outdated 
systems to the modern ones will require some patience and under- 
standing, especially among teaching colleagues. But it is worth the 
effort, for everyone will benefit: the teacher himself, the student, and 
the future recipients of the student's exegesis from the pulpit and in 
the classroom. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 205-227 


George J. Zemek, Jr. 

TJie Bible is a persistent witness to the fact that behavior flows 
from a noetic wellspring. Noetic depravity, expressed by various 
terms and idiomatic combinations in both testaments, necessitates a 
redirection of man 's faculties. Repentance establishes an initial re- 
orientation; however, the Scriptures stress that the key to a godly 
life-style is a sustained spiritual mindset. This is the focal point of 
Biblical ethics. 


THE noetic effects' of the Fall are attested on nearly every page of 
the Holy Scriptures. If one fails to take seriously God's infallible 
diagnosis of this malady, attempts at treatment will be at best directed 
only to symptoms and the result will be fatal. 

A Survey of Noetic Terminology 

OT Terminology 

The concept of "mind" in the OT is conveyed in certain contexts 
by mi, U^D3, and 33^3^^ All but the last should be considered secon- 
dary terms because of the infrequency with which they are used in 
contexts in the Hebrew Bible where this English translation value is 

'Although English dictionaries define "noetic" only in terms of intellect, no refer- 
ence to mere logic in nonmoral contexts is intended here. Coming from vouc;, "mind," 
the term is used here as it is in the NT to describe fallen man's thinking and reasoning 
processes, which are consistently perverted in the spiritually vital issues of life. 

^ Aaron Pick, Dictionary of Old Testament Words for English Readers (reprint; 
Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1977) 274. Pick also lists HDT (cf. Job 17:11; Prov 21:27; 24:9; 
Isa 32:7); however, it will not be discussed here since its occurrences are few and its 
anthropological and hamartiological impact is transparent. 



"Rarely . . . nTl is used of the seat of mentality."^ A survey of 
usage based on a Hebrew concordance along with LXX renderings 
(where nvev^ia is not used to translate nn)" justifies special usage 
categories for mi as the seat or organ "of mental acts" and "of the 
will."^ Renderings of "mind, disposition, temper, mood, disposition 
of mind,"^ etc., are found in contexts associating nn with attitude of 
mind and/ or volition/ For example, the Lord says in Ezek 11:5, "I 
know your thoughts"^ [n'nVT ""^X DDnn n1'71?0l]. Later in Ezekiel, 
God says, "And what comes into your mind [DDniT'7y nVyni] will not 
come about, when you say: 'We will be like the nations, like the tribes 
of the lands, serving wood and stone' "(20:32). Similarly, 1 Chr 28:12 
speaks of the plan for the temple and environs that David "had in 
mind"(iQV 0113 TH nu^K Vs n''32ni). 

Other similar usages of nTl relate theologically to the subsequent 
discussion. Of particular significance are those usages where riTi is 
parallel to 3*? in contexts of cognition, attitude, or volition. The Lord 
spiritually X-rays the motives of the mi (e.g., Prov 16:2, 18, 19, 32) 
and exposes mankind's fatal condition. The cure for the fallen condi- 
tion of his nn requires nothing less than the administration of sover- 
eign grace by the Great Physician: "I will give you a new heart 
[urin nb] and put a new spirit [r\pin TV\li] within you" (Ezek 36:26; 
cf. 11:19). Divine efficacy and the responsibility of man's proper 
self-estimation in comparison with God's perfection seem to converge 
in passages such as Isa 57:15: "For thus says the high and exalted [He 
alone is XW?"] DT] One, who lives forever, whose name is Holy, 'I dwell 

Ernest De Wit Burton, Spirit, Soul, and Flesh: The Usage of UvsOfxa, *Pvxtj, and 
Edp£, in Greek Writings and Translated Works from the Earliest Period to 180 ad; and 
of their Equivalents nil, tt^D], and 'W'2 in the Hebrew Old Testament (Historical and 
Linguistic Studies, second series; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1918) 59-60. 

Cf. Elmar Camilo Dos Santos, An Expanded Index for the Hatch-Redpath Con- 
cordance to the Septuagint (Jerusalem: Dugith, n.d.) 190-91. 

See usage categories 6 and 7 in BDB, p. 925. 
'KB, 2.878. 

See the discussion in Hans Walter Wolff, Anthropology of the Old Testament 
(London: SCM, 1974) 37-39. 

NASB. Unless otherwise indicated all English translations are taken from this 
version. However, note the significant impact of the NfV rendering: "what is going 
through your mind." 

See, for example. Job 15:12-13 (apostasy of heart/ apostasy in spirit); Pss 34:19 
(broken in heart/ crushed in spirit); 51:12 (a cleansed heart/ a rightly fixed [|i33] spirit); 
51:19 (a broken spirit/a broken heart); 77:7 (meditation with heart/ mi + lysn); Dan 
5:20 (arrogance [Dll] of heart/ arrogance [IIT + 1j?ri] of spirit); etc. All references here 
and subsequently follow the Hebrew versification. 

'"Wolff stresses the fact that "in Ezek 11:19; 36:26 the gift of the new heart and the 
new will are linked together" (Anthropology of the OT 38). 

zemek: aiming the mind 207 

on a high [DilD] and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly 
of spirit [mi + Vdu? + X3"l] in order to revive the spirit of the lowly 
[D'Vsip mi] and to revive the heart of the contrite [D'SDl? 3^']."" 

It should be noted that although the NT authors employ a wide 
range of more explicit terms for "mind," there is still some carry-over 
corresponding to the above usages of TVW At times TrveO^ia also is 
viewed "as the seat of consciousness and intelligence"'^ and "as the 
seat of emotion and will; especially of the moral and religious life, 
including thought as concerned with religion."'^ 

What has been said about mi also holds true for tt'D] but to a 
lesser degree. Although U^D3 is employed "rarely of the seat of mental- 
ity," there are several contexts in which it connotes "the seat of will 
and moral action, especially when joined with 3D^, but occasionally 
alone." tt^DJ is associated with knowing (VT) in Josh 23:14 (cf. Ps 
139:14), with reckoning (lyu^) in Prov 23:7, with wishing or desiring 
in Gen 23:8,'^ with imagining or devising (TlTpi) in Esth 4:13, and with 
choosing (in3) in Job 7:15. Consequently, Ii^p3 in Scripture is the seat 
of man's pride and humility, and thus another term which conveys his 
accountability and responsibility. Of particular significance for the 
study at hand is David's challenge to Israel's leaders in 1 Chr 22:19: 
"Now set your heart and your soul to seek (DDtrpaT DD??"? m nny)'* 
tti'lTlV) the Lord your God; arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary 

"The anthropological and hamartiological inferences from the antithetical plays 
on words are quite obvious. 

'^Burton, Spirit. Soul, and Flesh, 179; e.g., 1 Cor 2:1 1. 

"ibid.; cf. Matt 26:41; Acts 17:16; 19:21; 20:22; 2 Cor 2:13; Eph 4:23; etc. 

"ibid., 65; cf. BDB,661. 

'^Burton, Spirit, Soul, and Flesh, 65. It is interesting that in BDB this category of 
usage is regarded as dubious, although they cite Gen 23:8; 2 Kgs 9:15; etc., as possible 
examples (p. 661). Apart from the invalid critical assumptions expressed in categories 
7-10, their reservations are properly grounded in light of the wholistic anthropology of 
the OT (esp. in reference to U^D], "life, self, person," etc.) and the fact that the majority 
of these occurrences of ^p) are in parallel with 33^ Even though all of the references 
may be affected metonymically, it is nevertheless advantageous to recognize a category 
of "lysj as Expression of the Will" (see "The Anthropology of the Old Testament," by 
Edmond Jacob in TDNT, s.v., M/uxii, ktX.," by G. Bertram et ai, 9.621-22). 

'*KB prefer to categorize Gen 23:8 and 2 Kgs 9:15 under purpose (2.628); cf. tt'DJ 
plus verbals and substantives from the root niN in Deut 12:15, 20, 21; 14:26; 18:6; etc. 

"For example, Hab 2:4 (tt*S3 + ^^\ + negative); cf. Lev 16:29, 31; 23:27, 29, 32; 
Num 29:7; Ps 24:4; etc. 

'^Such collocations of verbs of orientation or direction with anthropological terms 
which suggest rational or volitional nuances plus subsequent infinitives show the prior- 
ity of aiming the mind in the OT. This should become increasingly obvious as more 
biblical data are surveyed and summarized. 


of the Lord, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the 
Lord, and the holy vessels of God into the house that is to be built for 
the name of the Lord." 

Based upon the use of U^Dl in the OT as a metonymy, NT yux^ 
may denote "the powers, possibilities, and interests of the self, the 
human person. "'' Usages of v|/uxi can also point to "the seat of 
vitality, thought, emotion, will; the human mind in the larger sense of 
the word; most frequently with special reference to its religious capaci- 
ties and experiences." The compound word for double mindedness 
(cf. 5i\|/uxo(; in James 1:8; 4:8) is especially illustrative.^' 

Although it occurs infrequently in the OT, i;;' is extremely sig- 
nificant. The Semitic root IX'', to form, shape, create, fashion, etc., is 
most frequently associated with the activity of the potter.^^ ")X^ is also 
used to denote divine purpose (i.e., pre-ordaining, planning). ^^ A 
verbal form is used with a negative connotation of human devising in 
Ps 94:20. 

The usage of the substantive for "what is framed in the mind"^"* 
is worthy of special attention. The references are to man's imagina- 
tions, devices, or purposes.^^ The hamartiological consequences asso- 
ciated with man's ix;* stand out in sharp relief (cf. Gen 6:5; 8:21; Deut 
31:21); therefore, God's grace is desperately needed for noetic direc- 
tion: "O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, 
preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Thy people 
[D^lyV nxrn-JOl^ ^^m 3dV nlDU^no "ir>], and direct their heart to 
Thee" (1 Chr 29:18).^^ Accountability is seen in the light of God judg- 
ing volitional intent: "As for you, my son Solomon, know the God of 
your father and serve him with a whole heart [ubp 2*??] and a willing 
mind [nXDri Ii^D33l]; for the Lord searches all hearts [U'ni + 22% and 

"Burton, Spirit. Soul, and Flesh, 184. 

^°Ibid., 183; cf. Acts 14:2; Eph 6:6; Phil 1:27; 2 Pet 2:14; Rev 18:14; etc. 

^'Cf. Sivi^uxew, 8iv)/uxiot, and 8iv|/uxog in the early Christian literature; BAGD, 

"Cf. nr and its cognates in KB, 1.396 and BDB, 427. 

"BDB, 427-28; cf. Ps 139:16; Isa 22:11; 37:26 (2 Kgs 19:25); 46:1 1; Jer 18:11. 

^^Ibid., 428; it is suggested the the word "formulation" could stand at the head of 
this important category of usage. 


"Contrast the biblical data with the Rabbinical teachings on nr 3lun and vnn ir 
(i.e., the good and bad impulses or tendencies in man); for brief surveys see: Gustav 
Friedrich Oehler, Theology of the Old Testament (trans, and ed. by George E. Day; 
New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1883) 161-63, and Theodorus C. Vriezen, An Outline of 
Old Testament TTieology (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1958) 311. 

^'The '['Vk D33V pH"! greatly intensifies this request for volitional enablement. 

zemek: aiming the mind 209 

understands every intent of the thoughts [pD ni3U;nD IxrVsi]. If you 
seek Him,^^ He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will 
reject you forever" (1 Chr 28:9). A sustained ix;| (i.e., frame of mind 
or purpose)^' is a prerequisite for godly living: "Thou wilt keep the 
nation of steadfast purpose ["1100 IXl] in perfect peace, because it 
trusts in Thee" (Isa 26:3). 

It should not be surprising that 23V3V is the primary term in the 
OT for man's rational and volitional capacities, since "the Bible pri- 
marily views the heart as the centre of the consciously living man."^° 
It is the "symbol for the focus of life."^' "The heart is the organ which 
wills or decides, thinks, knows, and judges between right and wrong." 
An extensive examination of these nuances is not possible here, so the 
following survey is selective. 

In the semantic sphere of "the heart as the seat of rational func- 
tions,"" BDB and KB lexicons^'* provide a useful organization of the 
term's many occurrences.^^ Meanings of "mind, sense, understanding, 
intelligence," etc. for 3^ are common (cf. Isa 65:17; Prov 6:32; 7:7; 
9:4, 16; 10:13, 21; 11:12; 12:11; Job 34:10, 34; etc.). Its usage as the 
subject of the verb VT amplifies its cognitive significance. However, 
the thinking 3^ is especially highlighted in collocations with 3U^n (i.e., 

Note the play on words with this occurrence of ^JTi. 

^'Cf. the force of the root -^OD ("to lean, rest upon") in BDB, 701-2. The logical 
parallel of '^IDO nx;! with mU3 ^2 is certainly not coincidental. Both "^DD and nU3 
magnify a dependence on divine resources. 

'"Wolff, Anthropology of the OT, 55; his whole chapter entitled ''lebiab) — 
Reasonable Man" is noteworthy (pp. 40-58). 

^'j. Barton Payne, 77?^ Theology of the Older Testament (Grand Rapids: Zonder- 
van, 1962) 225; see Payne's brief discussion of 3^ on pp. 225-26. 

"Paul Heinisch, Theology of the Old Testament (trans, by William Heidt; 
Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1950) 160. 

^^TDNT, s.v. "KopSia, Kap5ioYv6aTr|(;, aKX.r|poKap8ia," by Friedrich Baumgartel 
and Johannes Behm, 3.606; Baumgartel's brief treatment of "3^, 33^ in the OT" is 
excellent (pp. 606-7). The various renderings of noetic terms in the LXX are especially 
informative (note Dos Santos, Expanded Index, 97; and for discussion, see NIDNTT, 
"voCg, by G. Harder, 3.124). 

"•Cf. BDB's usage categories 3 (p. 523 for 33> and pp. 524-25 for s"?), and KB's 
categories 7 and 8 (respectively "heart = mind, attention, consideration, understand- 
ing, intelligence" and "heart = the whole of the mind"; 1.470). 

''Wolff observes that "in by far the greatest number of cases it is intellectual, 
rational functions that are ascribed to the heart" {Anthropology of the OT, 46). 

"Note "you are to know in your heart that . . ." (33^ + DV + VV; Deut 8:5); and 
"you know in all your hearts. . . " (33^ + 3 + J?T; Josh 23:14). Other occurrences 
with verbs such as ps (to perceive, discern) corroborate this (e.g., Isa 6:10 speaks of 
understanding with their hearts [33^ + J'?]). 


"to think, account, reckon") and its derivatives. Similarly, nin and 
its derivatives^* are special activities of the dV.^^ It should be noted 
that the 2*7 is also viewed as the source of conversation, both in- 
ternal'*" and articulated.'*' 

Occurrences where the 2^ functions volitionally are inextricably 
related to the cognitive usages sampled above, lb as the source of 
volition is widely attested through a variety of associations and 
idioms: the root 313 plus 3*7 connotes a willing heart (e.g., Exod 35:5, 
22, 29), the preposition p plus 2*? emphasizes the origination of 
purpose (e.g., Num 16:28; 24:13), the preposition Dy with dV plus the 
infinitive conveys determination (e.g., 1 Kgs 8:18; 2 Chr24:4; 29:10); 
the verb nVv, the preposition bv, 3V, and the infinitive speak of moti- 
vation (e.g., 2 Kgs 12:5); the root j?pn plus lb suggests resolution 
(e.g., Judg 5:15); the root mx with 3^ stresses desire (e.g., Ps 21:3); 
the root Tir plus dV signifies planning (e.g., Prov 16:1); etc.'*^ All such 
usages imply man's accountability before God. 

NT Terminology 

Before the specific noetic terms of the NT are surveyed, it is 
necessary to point out that many occurrences of KapSia are based on 
the precedent of dV in the OT.'*'* Kap5ia "is the seat of understanding, 
the source of thought and reflection.""^ "A striking feature of the NT 

"For discussion and examples, see TWOT, s.v. "Dtyn," by Leon J. Wood, 

'*On these words for meditating and meditation, see BDB, 211-12. 

"Cf. Pss 19:15; 39:4 (by parallelism); 49:4; Isa 33:18; 59:13. 

""Cf. 3> + ? + nOK; e.g., Esth 6:6; Pss 4:5; 10:6, 11, 13; 14:1; 53:2. For some fitting 
commentary see Wolff, Anthropology of the OT, 50. An attendant phenomenon would 
be the utilization of aV to connote the conscience (e.g., 1 Sam 24:6; 2 Sam 24:10). 

"E.g., Job 8:10. 

"^Harder astutely points out that "in the OT the understanding belongs together 
with the will, and aims less at theoretical contemplation than at right conduct" 
(NIDNTT, s.v. 'VoOc;," by G. Harder, 3.124). 

''^The most significant rational and volitional occurrences of jV which depict the 
concept of mind-set will be treated first negatively and then positively in the ensuing 
discussions. For an introductory survey, note BDB's fourth category (special reference 
to inclinations, resolutions and determinations of the will) on pp. 523, 525; and KB's 
categories 4 (heart = mood, inclination, disposition) and 6 (heart = will, intention) on 

'*'*Sorg is correct when he asserts that "the NT use of kardia coincides with the OT 
understanding of the term" (NIDNTT, s.v. "KapSia," by T. Sorg, 2.182). 

^^TDNT, s.v. "Kap5ia, kt>..," by J. Behm, 3.612. Cf. the KapSia and thinking, 
thoughts (Matt 9:4; Luke 9:47; Heb 4:12; etc.); perceiving (Matt 13:15; etc.); source of 
speech, both internal and articulated (Matt 12:34-35; 24:48); reason, ponder, imagine 
(Mark 2:6-8; Luke 1 :5 1 ; 2: 19; 5:22; etc.); et al. 

zemek: aiming the mind 211 

is the essential closeness of kardia to the concept nous, mind." 
Furthermore, Kap5ia "is the seat of the will, the source of resolves." 
These special usages of Kap5ia complement the following explicit 

The vo- word complex 

Harder stresses the "whole group of words is associated more 
firmly with the will."'*^ As previously observed, rational and voli- 
tional nuances interrelate ethically in the biblical corpus. 

The verb voeo) ("to perceive, apprehend, understand, gain insight 
into, think,"^° etc.) is explicit (cf., e.g., Mark 7:18; 13:14; John 12:40). 
One of the most significant anthropological terms in the NT is voOt; 
(i.e., the mind as the faculty of thinking, way of thinking; the in- 
tellect, understanding; etc.).^' It occurs in various contexts as de- 
praved (i.e., d56Ki|xo(;, Rom 1:28), futile (i.e., \iaTm6xr\c,, Eph 4:17 ), 
self-centered (cf. Col 2:18), and corrupted or defiled (cf. 1 Tim 6:5; 
2 Tim 3:8; Titus 1:15). Therefore, it stands in desperate need of divine 
intervention (cf. Siavoiyto + voO^ in Luke 24:45)" and renewal (cf. 

* NIDNTT, s.v. "Kap8ia," by Sorg, 2.182. Note the functions of the mind in 
association with KopSia (e.g., Mark 2:6; Luke 2:51; 3:15; 9:47; etc.). 

TDNT, s.v. "KapSia, ktX.," by Behm, 3.612. Cf. usage categories y, 5, e, and r| in 
BAGD, pp. 403-4. Note Kap8ia and planning, purposes, counsels (e.g., Acts 5:4; 1 1:33; 
1 Cor 4:5; Heb4:12; etc.); also note Ti0r||ii + fev + KopSia in Luke 21:14, and Ttpo- 
aipeo) -l- the dative of KopSia in 2 Cor 9:7. 

■"^Cf. the root vo- ("know") in Bruce M. Metzger, Lexical Aids for Students of 
New Testament Greek (Princeton: Bruce M. Metzger, 1971) 63. For a handy classifi- 
cation of the derivatives in the NT, see John Stegenga, The Greek-English Analytical 
Concordance of the Greek-English New Testament (Jackson, Mississippi: Hellenes- 
English Biblical Foundation, 1963) 522-25. 

'"NIDNTT, s.v. "voOq,"by Harder, 3.127. 

^"BAGD, 540; note some of their illustrative citations from early Christian literature. 
BAGD, 544-45; cf. Behm's usage categories a, c, and d in TDNT, "voeco, kxX.," 
by J. Behm and E. Wiirthwein, 4.952-53. For some excellent theological commentary, 
see: W. David Stacey, The Pauline View of Man in Relation to its Judaic and Hellenis- 
tic Background (London: MacMillan, 1956), 198-205; and Theo J. W. Kunst, "The 
Implications of Pauline Theology of the Mind for the Work of the Theologian," 
unpublished Th.D. dissertation (Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1979). 

Eggleston comments, "The reason of man's mind still functions, but no matter 
where it functions the result is vanity and evil, always in opposition to God. Man still 
has some desire to investigate truth, but the corruption of the mind renders him 
incapable of the right way of investigating truth. Unless seen in relation to God and 
His Word, this reasoning only leads to further perversion" (Donald Eggleston, "The 
Biblical Concept of voiji;: The Noetic Effects of the Fall and Regeneration," unpublished 
M.Div. thesis [Winona Lake, IN: Grace Theological Seminary, 1979] 53-54). 

^^Note the important parallel of Siavoiyw -I- KopSia in Acts 16:14. 


Rom 12:2;^'* Eph 4:23"). The only cure for mankind's inflated and 
perverted voOc; is the voOv XpiatoC (1 Cor 2:16; note the polemic 
against self-aggrandizement in chaps. 1-3). 

The NT data of v6r\[ia ("what is thought" or "what is willed"^^) 
are semantically similar. An important addition is the attestation of 
actual or potential Satanic involvement (cf. 2 Cor 4:4; 11:3); conse- 
quently, the prerequisite for godly living is to "take captive every 
thought [Ttav vorina] to make it obedient to Christ" (2 Cor 10:5, 

Aidvoia is the most frequent and significant of compounds formed 
on this word." It "comes very near in meaning to nous, and means, 
ability to think, faculty of knowledge, understanding, the organ of 
noein; then, mind, and particularly disposition."^* The NT empha- 
sizes hamartiological complications of man's Sictvoia. It is associated 
with a proud heart (Luke 1:51), inordinate desire (Eph 2:3), spiritual 
darkness (Eph 4:18^^), and active hostility (Col 1:21).^° This also 
requires a special administration of sovereign grace centering in the 
benefits of the New Covenant (cf. Sidvoia in Heb 8:10; 10:16; and 
1 John 5:20). 

Two compounds of low frequency, evvoia (Heb 4:12 and 1 Pet 
4:1) and ejiivoia (Acts 8:22), seem to complement the impact of this 
word family in the NT. The efficacy of the Word of God as "critic" of 
the fev0u|aTia£(ov Kai evvoicov KapSiac; (Heb 4:12, note the paralleUsm 
of V 13), although terrifying,^^ can open a channel of encouragement 
through dependence on God and his resources. 

'"For some good commentary and admonitions, see Horace E. Stoessel, "Notes on 
Romans 12:1-2: The Renewal of the Mind and Internalizing the Truth," Int 17 (1963) 

^Notice the force of the present passive infinitive dvavo8ua6ai (i.e., ''"'keep on 
undergoing renewal" in the jrveu|iaTi toC vooq u^div). 

'*Cf. TDNT, s.v. "vo^o), ktX.," by Behm, 4.960; for illustrative apocryphal occur- 
rences, note Bar 2:8 and 3 Mace 5:30. 

"Profitable background studies involve usages of the verb Siavoeonai in Greek 
literature and the LXX along with the previously mentioned frequent rendering of aV 
with Sidvoia; for a survey, see: TDNT, s.v. "voem, ktX.," by Behm and Wurthwein, 
4.963-67. A survey of its development in the early Christian writings is also note- 
worthy (1 Clem 35:5; 36:2; 2 Clem 1:6; 19:2); cf. BAGD, 187. 

^^NIDNTT, s.v. "voO(;,"by Harder, 3.127. 

''Kent comments, "The mind of the unconverted man may be filled with many 
things, and may be highly developed in its intellectual attainments, but spiritually it is 
wholly unable to apprehend the life of God. Those who are apart from God are in a 
state of darkness in their spiritual understanding" (Homer A. Kent, Jr., Ephesians: The 
Glory of the Church [Chicago: Moody, 1971] 16-77). 

The cognate 5iav6r||ia which occurs only in the NT at Luke 11:17 also bears 
negative freight. 

*'lts frequent LXX usage in Proverbs should be recalled. 

*^For helpful commentary, see: Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the 
Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977) 166. Lange makes clear the 

zemek: aiming the mind 213 

The (ppev word complex'^ 

"The word (ppoveiv is one of those terms which is difficult to 
render in English because it includes at once thinking and willing. "^'^ 
This recurrent observation, one that applies to the terms surveyed 
above, points to the "close interrelationship between life and thought" 
in the Bible/^ Paul's usage of cppoveco in Philippians is paradigmatic: 

To think, phronein, is a favourite expression of Paul in this letter. 
Its range and depth of meaning can be seen by referring to ii.2 (twice), 
5; iii.15 (twice), 16 (in the Received Text), 19; iv.2, 10 (twice). It means 
(in these verses) much more than a mental exercise, and signifies rather 
'sympathetic interest and concern, expressing as it does the action of 
the heart as well as the intellect' (Michael). It is the outworking of 
thought as it determines motives, and through motives the conduct of 
the person involved.** 

"Paul lays special emphasis on the quaUty of Christian thinking. "^^ 
Furthermore, his employment of (ppoveo) clearly reveals that "there 
can ... be no such thing as neutral thinking. Man is always aiming at 

The important compound Ta7rEivo(ppoauvr| forms the biblical 
foundation proper self-estimation (cf. Acts 20:19; Eph 4:2; Phil 2:3; 
1 Pet 5:5): 

In class. Gr. taneivog usually implies meanness of condition; lowness 
of rank; abjectness. At best the classical conception is only modesty, 
absence of assumption, an element of worldly wisdom, and in no sense 
opposed to self-righteousness. The word Ta7iEivo(ppoauvr| is an out- 
growth of the gospel. It does not appear before the Christian era. The 
virtue itself conjoined with a sense of sinfulness. It regards man not 
only with reference to God, but also with reference to his fellow-men. 

semantic connection of the LXX renderings of the key words in Gen 6:5 (John Peter 
Lange, Genesis, trnas. and ed. by Philip Schaff, in Commentary on the Holy Scriptures 
[reprint; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.], 287). 

"Cf. the root (ppEV in Metzger, Lexical Aids, 70; cf. TDNT, s.v. "(ppiv, ktX.," by 
Georg Bertram, 9.220. For classification of the family, see Stegenga, Greek-English 
Concordance, 800-803. 

'■"F. Godet, Commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans (vol. 2, trans, by 
A. Cusin; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1892) 70. 

^^NIDNTT, s.v. "(ppdyrjoiq," by J. Goetzmann, 2.617. 

"Ralph P. Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians (TynNTC; Grand 
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1959) 62. 

^'Donald Guthrie, New Testament Theology (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 

^*NIDNTT, s.v. "(ppovrjaig," by Goetzmann, 2.617. 

*'Marvin R. Vincent, The Epistles to the Philippians and to Philemon (ICC; New 
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1903) 56. 


Tajteivo(ppoouvT| and o(0(ppoveiv (Rom 12:3) stand diametrically 
opposed to UTrepcppoveiv (again Rom 12:3) and to "the well-known 
Greek expressions i)(pr|Xo(ppov8iv, ^£ya(ppov8iv, to aim high, to have 
a high self-regard.""^^ The self-estimation of the classical Greeks — and 
of contemporary man — becomes particularly repugnant in the light of 
Christ's example (Phil 2:6-8). This great Christological passage but- 
tresses Paul's major admonition (cf. 1:27-2:5): "They are ... to mould 
their ways ot thinking according to the pattern of Christ's mind (Phil 

The noun (pp6vr|)xa, based on one of the primary semantic spheres 
(ppoveo) ("to set one's mind on, be intent on"), denotes a way of 
thinking or mind-set. ^^ Although it occurs only in Romans 8 (vv 6, 7, 
27) in the NT, it is a strategic term since it puts special emphasis on 
aspiration and aim. 

The key- word complex 

The verb ^loyiCoiiai ("to reckon") was used extensively in the 
LXX to render I'WV}. Consequently, its earlier nuances expanded to 
include the concepts of devising and volitional planning. In this 
biblical framework an ethical trend was established. Aoyii^onai and 
X,OYia|i6{; in the LXX generally are used to translate words which 
imply the devising of evil. This spilled over into the NT (cf. A-oyio- 
\i6^ 2 Cor 10:4-5).'' 

AiaA-oyi^ofiai and 5ia?ioia|i6(; are even more significant for NT 
theology. These two compounds also have important roots in the 
LXX. The Greek verb is found rendering such Hebrew roots as Dli'n 
and DOX ("to consider, purpose, devise"), and the noun corresponds 

™Godet, Romans, 2.70; cf. u(pTi>.o(ppovE(o in Rom 1 1:20 and 1 Tim 6:17. 

"Guthrie, New Testament Theology, 667. 

"Cf. BAGD, 866. 

^Ibid.; 2 Mace 13:9 in its context is illustrative of this significance since it speaks 
of a king with a "barbarous" cppovTi|iaaiv. 

"Cf. root ^ey- in Metzger, Lexical Aids, 62. The root yvo- (ibid., 52-53) will not 
be surveyed here; however, it should be pointed out that the word yvcburi in contexts 
meaning "purpose," "intention," or "mind" (cf. Rev. 17:13, 17) became a very impor- 
tant term in the first and second centuries (BAGD, 163). Worthy of special mention are 
the idioms fj eiq 8e6v yvwht) (the mind directed toward God) and t^ tv 9ecp yvcburi (the 
mind fixed in God) in Ignatius' writings. 

"For discussion, see TDNT, s.v. "Xoyi^onai, >.oyia|i6(;," by H. W. Heidland, 

'*Ibid., 285. For a contrasting positive example of 'Koyi(,o\ia\. in the NT see Phil 
4:8. However, the usage of (ppov^co throughout the epistle probably colored >toyi^O|iai 

"ibid.; note the discussion on pp. 286-88. 

zemek: aiming the mind 215 

to natt^no ("thought, device; plan, purpose"), y"l ("purpose, aim"), 
P'VI ("longing, striving"), HQTQ ("purpose, direction, device"), etc/* 
However, it is the NT which places the capstone on this evidence, 
since 5iaX.OYi^o)xai and SiaXoyia^io^*" "are always used with a 
slightly depreciatory connotation."*' Schrenk rightly concludes, "This 
shows how strong is the conviction that the sinful nature of man 
extends to his thinking and indeed to his very heart. "*^ 

A Summary of the Noetic Consequences 
Noetic Depravity 

Sin issues from the human heart." Man's spiritual heart disease 
has already become obvious through the survey of 2V/Kap5ia. Man- 
kind is proud in heart,*" stubborn in heart,*^ hard in heart,*^ perverse 
in heart,*^ and evil in heart.** Two passages adequately summarize 
man's noetic depravity. 

Genesis 6:5 (cf. 8:21) 

Of all the passages in which 3^ is associated with DU^n or naui'no 
in a negative sense,*^ Gen 6:5 is especially critical:^" "Then the Lord 
saw that the wickedness [nVT] of man was great on the earth,^' and 

'^NIDNTT, s.v. "8ia>.oyiConai,"by D. Furst, 3.820-21. 

"Mark 2:6, 8; Luke 5:22; 12:17; etc. 

'"Matt 15:19 (Mark 7:21); Luke 5:22; 6:8; 9:47; Rom 1:21; 1 Cor 3:20 (cf. Ps 
94:11); etc. 

^^NIDNTT, s.v. "SiaXoyiConai," by Furst, 3.820. 

^^TDNT, s.v. "SiaX^yonai, diaXoyi^oixai, SiaXoyianoQ," by Gottlob Schrenk, 2.97. 

"Note the implication of the important maxim of Prov 4:23. 

"ku^J + 2V in 2 Kgs 14:10 (2 Chr 25:19); piT + 3> in Jer 49:16; ribJ + 3> in Prov 
16:5 (cf. Ezek 28:2, 17); root ur\ + 3> in Deut 8:14; 17:20; Ezek 31:10; Dan 5:20, 22; 
Hos 13:6; etc. 

*'Ps 81:13 (note the parallel with Rom 1:24, 26, 28); the root TW + sV in Jer 3:17 
(+ yi); 7:24 (+ VI); 9:13; 1 1:8 (+ yn); 18:12 (+ yi); 23:17. 

%K>LOpoKap5ia in LXX and in Matt 19:8 (Mark 10:5); Rom 2:5. 

"lyjpy + a^in Ps 101:4; Prov 11:20; 17:20. 

'*Deut 15:9; Num 15:39; Pss 83:6; 95:10; Prov 24:2; Eccl 8:1 1; Isa 32:6; 59:13; Matt 
9:4; etc. 

*'Some important references which have not yet been mentioned are: Ps 140:3 
OV + g + nyi + 3U;n; cf. LXX: Xoyi^onai + d5iKia + tv + Kap5ia); Prov 6:18 
(JIX + n3U;nD + V-\n + 3>) [cf. v. 14]; Isa 10:7 (3U?n + 3?V); Ezek 38:10 (+ 3U^n 
nyn + naU'riO) [dependent upon previous assertion about aa"?]; Zech 7:10 (+ 2Vn + Vx 
35>; cf. LXX: ]xr\ + ?ioyii;onai + iv + Kap8ia) [cf. 8:17].' 

'°On the immediate context with its emphasis on "the degeneration of man," see 
John J. Davis, Paradise to Prison: Studies in Genesis (Winona Lake, IN: BMH, 1975) 

"For some pertinent observations, see U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of 
Genesis (trans, by Israel Abrahams; Jerusalem: Magnes, 1961) 1.301. 


that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continu- 
ally." The subject of the Lord's evaluation in the second part of the 'S 
clause is ia"? nnu^no l^yb^.^^ It should be noted that the genitive 
chain terminates with 2V; consequently, it is the source of the nau^no. 
Furthermore, it is the formulation [is;|] of the thoughts'^ which falls 
under divine scrutiny. 

Every word in the predicate is crucial: Dl»ri"'73 i?"] pn. Man's 
noetic activity is viewed as i?l ("ethically bad, wicked, evil").^'* Two 
adverbial modifiers magnify this noetic perversity: the p"l speaks of 
exclusivity^^ and the idiom DVri'Vs of continuity. Lange comments 
emphatically, "Only evil, nothing but evil, all they day — every day, 
and every moment of every day. If this is not total depravity, how can 
language express it?"^^ Vriezen corroborates this opinion when he 

A more emphatic statement of the wickedness of the human heart is 
hardly conceivable. This is emphasized once more because in viii.21 the 
same judgment is pronounced on humanity after the Flood; indeed, in 
ix.lSff. and xi.lff. both Noah and his descendants prove to be wicked.'* 

Mark 7:20-23 (cf. Matthew 15:10-20) 

The context of this passage centers in the issue of the "source of 
true defilement (vv. 14-23)." Jesus' analysis of the condition of the 
human heart is incisive: "That which proceeds out of the man, that is 
what defiles the man. For from within [eaoGev'"*^], out of the heart of 
men [^k xfjc; KapSiag tcov dvGpwTrtov], proceed the evil thoughts [oi 

The Koi nac. Tig Siavoeixai t\ xfj Kap8ia auxoC of the LXX is somewhat para- 
phrastic (however, cf. its use of Sidvoia in Gen 8:21). These usages construct significant 
bridges to the NT (see discussion above). 

'^Skinner renders the whole construct chain 'Uhe whole bent of the thoughts of his 
heart" (John Skinner, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Genesis [ICC; New 
York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1917] 150). 


''Ibid., 956. 

''Ibid., 400. 

''Lange, Genesis, 1%1 . 

'* Vriezen, Outline of OT Theology, 210. 

"D. Edmond Hiebert, Mark: A Portrait of the Servant (Chicago: Moody, 1974) 
178. Heibert notes that "the controversy concerning the tradition of the elders had 
raised the deeper question of the nature and source of true defilement. It was a matter 
of fundamental importance, and Jesus did not leave the question untouched. Verse 15 
gives His concise, somewhat enigmatical statement of the basic principle, while verses 
17-23 give His full statement to the disciples" (ibid.). 

'""Contrast with the g^mOev of v 15. 

zemek: aiming the mind 217 

SiaXoyianoi oi KaKoi'"'], and fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 
deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, 
slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from 
within and defile the man."'°^ According to Jesus and scriptural pre- 
cedent the fountainhead of all perverted behavior is the fallen human 
heart. Guthrie captures the significance of Jesus' analysis when he 
asserts that "the sanctifying process is concerned primarily with atti- 
tudes of mind rather than actions. This is supplemented by the view 
that right action will follow from right thought. "'°^ 

Noetic Apostasy 

Several verbs combine with lb to convey noetic direction. '"'* Here 
only the occurrences of these idiomatic combinations in negative con- 
texts will be considered; positive occurrences will be dealt with 

The combination of 3"? plus the verb D'U' bears the meanings of 
"set the mind, consider,"'"^ and with the prepositions -'?, Vx, or bv, it 
denotes "laying to heart" or "paying heed to."'°* Mind-orientation is 
prominent, with an emphasis upon diligent attention and deep con- 
sideration. For example, it says of the recalcitrant Egyptian that he 
"paid no regard (lb + D'U? + kV; cf. LXX: \if\ + Tipooexw + dative of 
5idvoia) to the word of the Lord" (Exod 9:21). A warning against 
preoccupation with wrong things is found in the words "do not set 
your mind (lb + Q''^ + Vx; cf. LXX: ^r\ + Ti0r||ii + Kap5ia) on them" 
(1 Sam 9:20).'°^ There are many prophetic admonitions and judgments 
pertaining to diligent attention or the lack of it.'°^ Noetic apostasy is 

""See the previous survey on SiaXoyi^oiiai and Sia^-oyianoc; and see also: William 
Hendriksen, Exposition of the Gospel according to Mark (NTC; Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1975) 286. 

'"^For some good commentary, see ibid., 269-90. 

""Guthrie, NT Theology, 662. 

'"■"Only the most explicit combinations relating to the concept of mind-set will be 
surveyed; aV with general expressions for apostasy (e.g., '^7\ + dV or iriN + '^Vn, cf. 
Ezek 1 1:21; 20:16; 33:31; p + pni + 3>, cf. Isa 29:13; etc.) wiU not be treated. 

'°'BDB, 523; e.g., Isa 41:22; Hag 2:15, 18. 

'"^KB, 2.920; e.g.. Job 1:8 (+ •?»); 2:3 (+ Vk); etc. 

'"^See 3> + D'tt' + '?N/x'? in 1 Sam 25:25; 2 Sam 13:33; 18:3; etc. for not giving 
serious consideration of something. 

""See "he paid no attention" (aV + •?» + U^V + k"?) in Isa 42:25, "these things you 
did not consider" (3^ + "?y + D'ty + vh) in 47:7, "consider your ways" (+ 3^ + ^''V 
TIT + •?><) in Hag 1:5, 7 (note that the LXX employs xdaao) in v 5 and xiOrini in v 7); 
Mai 2:2 (3^ + "?» + W'V + K*?); etc. 


especially obvious in Jeremiah's lament: "The whole land has been 
made desolate, because no man lays it to heart" (Jer 12:11). His 
words are concise but explicit: '["'K ""D 3V''?y DU; II^'X.'"^ An apostate 
mind-set is mankind's point of embarkation on a journey of woe." 

The combination of D^ plus nw is semantically related." It also 
speaks of paying attention to someone or something."^ Consequently, 
there are warnings against the ever-present danger of apostasy in 
mind-set: "Do not trust in oppression, and do not vainly hope in 
robbery; if riches increase, do not set your heart (2^ + T\'>p + "^K; cf. 
LXX: [if\ + 7rpoTlGr|)ii + Kap5ia upon them" (Ps 62:1 1)."^ 

2b in association with the verb "ITD constitutes an important 
category. Jer 17:5"^ is hamartiologically normative: "Thus says the 
Lord, 'Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his 
strength, and whose heart turns away from (p + 110 + 2*?; cf. LXX: 
Kap5ia + dcpioirmi -|- dno) the Lord." Consequently, there are warn- 
ings concerning apostasy from the Covenant: "Only give heed to 
yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things 
which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from you heart 
(lib + IP + 11D) all the days of your life; but make them known to 
your sons and your grandsons" (Deut 4:9). Moses relays the follow- 
ing challenge concerning the future king: "Moreover, he shall not 
multiply horses for himself, nor shall he cause the people to return to 
Egypt to multiply horses . . . neither shall he multiply wives for him- 
self, lest his heart turn away (DdV + "lID); nor shall he greatly increase 
silver and gold for himself" (Deut 17:16-17). 

' LXX: oTi ouK eoTiv dvrjp Ti0e|ievoq tv Kap6ig. 

"°Zechariah's testimony corroborates: "And they made their hearts Hke flint 
[TDtt' + D'ty + 3V; LXX: Kai tt^v KapSiav auitov exa^av diTieiGfi] so that they could 
not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through 
the former prophets; therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts" (Zech 7:12). 

'"BDB, 1011. 

'"! Sam 4:20 (3V + n"'tt' + "PN); 2 Sam 13:20 (2V + n^iy + Vk); Job 7:17 (+ n^tt* 
aV + b'X); Ps 48:14; etc. 

"'This OT background on one's mind-set greatly enlightens Jesus' warnings in 
Matt 6:19-21; Luke 12:34; etc. 

'"BDB, 693-94. 

'"CL the parallelism of Jer 5:23: "But this people has a stubborn and rebellious 
heart (niim TliD 3^); they have turned aside (110) and departed." 

zemek: aiming the mind 219 


The combination of 3*? and njD conceptually parallels aV plus 
no."* Climaxing the covenant stipulations is a summary challenge 
(Deut 30:15-16) which is followed by the warning which introduces 
an ultimate curse: "But if your heart turns away (22^ + njs"^) and 
you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and 
serve them . . ." (Deut 30:17). An apostate mind-set would ultimately 
lead to the gravest consequence of all (Deut 30:18). 

Another important combination is that of 2*? plus nuj. For 
example, spiritual insensitivity culminating in idolatry is related to 
this type of noetic apostasy in Isa 44:20"' where it asserts that "a 
deceived heart has turned him aside" (nui + bbT) + 2*7). Covenant vio- 
lation is also conveyed by this idiomatic combination of 2V and n03 in 
1 Kgs 11:2, 4, and 9. The importance of this group as a primary 
designation for the concept of mind-set will become increasingly 


Finally, the collocation of 2*7 and ps'^' needs to be viewed in its 
negative contexts. Ps 78:8 reads, "And be not like their fathers, a 
stubborn and rebellious'^^ generation, a generation that did not pre- 
pare its heart (2V + y^Tl + x"?), and whose spirit was not faithful to 
God." The concept of a targeted mind-set intensifies when the com- 
bination is complemented by the preposition -V, the preposition DV, 
or the infinitive. In 2 Chr 20:33 a blight on Jehoshaphat's reforms is 
noted by the words: "The high places, however, were not removed; 
the people had not yet directed their hearts to (-*? + 22*? + I'pn + X*?) 
the God of their fathers." The following condemnation occurs in 
Ps 78:37: "For their heart was not steadfast toward (+ pDJ + xV -l- 2V 
Dy) Him, nor were they faithful in His covenant." 2 Chr 12:14, speak- 
ing of King Rehoboam, is quite explicit: "And he did evil because he 
did not set his heart to seek (tt'lllV + 2^ + pn + xV) the Lord." This 
indeed paints a very vivid picture of noetic apostasy. 

"*BDB, 815. 
'"Cf. Deut 29:17. 

"*BDB, 640; notice that the LXX almost always uses simple and compounded 
forms of kXivo) for thus usage sphere of nU3. 
'"Cf. the immediate context. 
'^°Cf. the related verb nutt> plus a*? in Prov 7:25. 
'^'BDB, 465-67. 
'^^It should be noted that this descriptive couplet occasionally occurs with 2^. 



Sovereign Grace 

Ultimately only the Great Physician can remedy the noetic con- 
dition of man's heart. Since the Scriptures plainly bear witness to this 
fact, his efficacy in salvation and sanctification is incontestable. 

The Heart-Knower 

Although "the inward thought and the heart of a man are deep" 
(pby),'^^ God as the heart-knower'^'* opens up the possibility for a 
remedy: "The heart is more deceitful than all else [V3?p D^n Dpy'^^] 
and is desperately sick [iD'axi'^^]; who can understand it? 1 the Lord 
search the heart [lb + ipn'^^], I test [|n2'^*] the mind, even to give to 
each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds" 
(Jer 17:9-10). The NT testifies to the significance of God as the heart- 
knower by its use of the term KapSiayvcbairiq. "It describes God 
as the knower of hearts. . . . God sees, tests and searches the hidden 
depths of the human heart. "'^'^ In Acts 1:24 the apostles prefaced 
their prayer for divine direction concerning the choice of a man to 
complement their number with the words, "Thou, Lord, knowest the 
hearts of all men" (KapSiayvdioTa TidvKDv). The idiom 6 KapSio- 
yv6ioxr\c, Qeoc, (Acts 15:8) exemplifies the theological significance and 
implications of God in this role. He has unique insight into the mind- 
set of mankind. 

The Heart-Transplanter 

The Lord is conspicuously involved both in repentance and the 
sustained mind-set which is essential for sanctification. In the context 

'^'Ps 64:7; cf. "a plan in the heart of a man is Hke deep water" in Prov 20:5. On the 
root pnv (here: "deep, unfathomable, unsearchable") see BDB, 770-71. 

'"See 2b plus S/T with God as the subject in 1 Kgs 8:39 ("Thou alone dost know 
the hearts of all the sons of men"); Pss 44:22; 139:23; etc.; cf. YivcboKW in Luke 16:15; 

'■^'Le., more insidious; cf. the root 3pV ("to deal treacherously"): BDB, 784; 
TWOT, s.v. "apy, by J. Barton Payne, 2.692; etc. 

'^*I.e., "weak, puny"; cf. the related substantive C^iiK and the obvious irony in 
comparison with the arrogant nSJ of v5. For a survey of the root, see TDOT, s.v. 
"tylJX," by Fritz Maass, 1.345-46. 

'^'BDB, 350; cf. the concept in Rev 2:23. 

'^^BDB, 103; on 3*? plus ]n3, see "Thou triest the heart" in 1 Chr 29:17 (note the 
important complement of v 18); Ps 26:2; and Jer 12:3. 

'^'it is absent from secular Greek and the LXX; however, its use in the NT and the 
patristic writings is noteworthy. For a brief survey, see TDNT, s.v. "Kap5ia, KapSio- 
yvcbaxriq, oK>LripoKap5ia," by Behm, 3.613. 

^^°N/DNTT, s.v. "Kap8ia," by Sorg, 2.183. 

zemek: aiming the mind 221 

of repentance and conversion, the combination of 2^ plus jnj with 
God as subject is dramatically explicit:' ' "I will give them a heart to 
know me" (Jer 24:7); "I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that 
they will not turn away from Me" (Jer 32:40); "I will give you a new 
heart and put a new spirit within you" (Ezek 36:26).'^^ Equally explicit 
is the NT evidence: "Well then, God has granted to the gentiles also 
the repentance [jxeTdvoia] that leads to life" (Acts 1 1:18).'" 

God specializes in bending man's perverted noetic inclinations. A 
general statement is found in Prov 21:1: "The king's heart is like 
channels of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns [nu3] it [suffix = 
antecedent ^V\ wherever He wishes." Confirmation is found in Ezra 
6:22: "The Lord had caused them to rejoice, and had turned the heart 
[lb + 330] of the king of Assyria toward them to encourage them in 
the work of the house of God, the God of Israel."'^" 

A sustained mind-set for positive direction in life is also attributed 
to divine intervention. Nehemiah spoke of "what my God was putting 
into my mind to do [infinitive + 3*? + "tk + |ri3] for Jerusalem" (Neh 
2:12). The most significant evidence for this phenomenon comes from 
the grouping of 3^ plus nui with God as subject: "Incline my heart to 
['7X + 3V + un; cf. LXX: kJlivo) + Kap5ia + ei^] Thy testimonies" 
(Ps 119:36);'" Do not incline my heart to [-"p 4- 3V + DH + "rx; cf. 
LXX: [ir\ + ^kkXIvco + KapSia + sic,] any evil thing" (Ps 141:4); etc. 
1 Kgs 8:57-58 conveys Solomon's insight into this important truth: 
"May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may 
He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to 
Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and 
His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers." 
The theological significance of the hiphil infinitive of nU3 with 33*7 as 
its object, plus the directional "rx with God as its personal object, 
along with the telic infinitives'" is clear; God needs to bend the mind- 
set of his people to himself so that they may live obediently. 

Human Responsibility 

Notwithstanding the previous evidence, man remains responsible. 
The Scriptures show that he bears a responsibility in connection with 

'^'Cf. 3> + 33D in 1 Kgs 18:37: "Thou has turned their heart OV + aon) back 
again"; and note the sovereign providence concerning the ministry of the forerunner in 
Mai 3:24 (Luke 1:17): "he will restore the hearts (a"? + 3iu;) of the fathers." 

Also call to mind the theological significance of Jer 31:33: "1 will put My law 
within them [an^ + ? + 103], and on their heart I will write it [a"? + Vy + ans]; and 1 
will be their God, and they shall be My people." Note the interesting inversion of the 
noetic referents of KopSia and Sidvoia in Heb 8:10 and 10:16. 

Cf. (iexdvoia and Divine initiative in Rom 2:4 and 2 Tim 2:25. 

Cf. 2V + 3 + ]T\} in Ezra 7:27, and an illustration in Gen 20:3-6. 

Cf. the same combination in reference to human responsibility in v 112. 

LXX: ^TtiKXivai KapSiag i^jxcov npoc, auxov xoC 7topei)8CT0ai . . . Koi (pXaaaeiv. 


both repentance and sanctification. For this reason the following con- 
siderations are paramount. 

Initial Responsibility 

An initial change in noetic orientation is a soteriological pre- 
requisite/^^ This is most commonly conveyed in the OT by the asso- 
ciation of dV with DIU^.'^* For example, the Lord speaks through Joel 
in the following manner, "'Return to Me with all your heart [+ 3T^ 
2DV + Vd + 2 + ly], and with fasting, weeping, and mourning; and 
rend your heart and not your garments.' Now return to ["rx + 2W] 
the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to 
anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and relenting of evil" (Joel 
2:12-13). This change of direction is related to remembrance and 
meaningful contemplation in the context of the covenant promises 
and responsibiUties: "So it shall become when all of these things have 
come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before 
you, and you call them to mind [33*? + '?X + ^W] in all nations where 
the Lord your God has banished you, and you return to [IV + DIU?] 
the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul . . . 
then.. ."Deut 30:1-3).'^' 

Initial noetic redirection in the NT is usually conveyed by liexct- 
voeo) and |ieTdvoia:''*° "Repent [iiexavoeo)], for the kingdom of heaven 
is at hand. . . . Therefore bring forth fruit in keeping with your repen- 
tance [^eidvoia]" (Matt 3:2, 8).''" That this radical reorientation of 
fallen man's mental faculties is soteriologically foundational is veri- 
fied by Christ's commission (cf. Luke 24:47) and apostolic practice 
(cf. Acts 2:28; 3:19; 8:22; 17:30; 26:20)."*' 

Subsequent Responsibility 

Prior to some specific illustrations of the priority of the believer's 
mind-set as a key to godly living it is necessary to reemphasize the 

'"Fallen man is characteristically impenitent (e.g., d|ieTav6r|TO(; in Rom 2:5). 

''* Jacob stresses that "the movement towards God IW, which the prophets con- 
tinually ask from the human will, also begins in the heart, Jer 3:10; 29:13; etc." {TDNT, 
s.v. "x)/t)xi, KtX." by Edmond Jacob, et al, 9.628). See also TDNT, s.v. "Repentance 
and Conversion in the OT," by Wiirthwein, 4.980-89. 

'^^Cf. 3*7 + 'y\V in Deut 4:39; Isa 44:19; 46:8; and the prevalent ^TiioTpecpco/KapSia 
renderings of the LXX along with the explanatory ^eTOvorioaTe in Isa 46:8. 

'''"For a survey which also stresses some of the conceptual intertestamental con- 
nections, see NIDNTT, s.v. "nexdvoia," by J. Goetzmann, 1.357-59; and on the pos- 
sible etymological development ("change of mind"), see TDNT, s.v. "voem, ktX..," by 
Behm, <i.916-71. 

'""Cf. Jesus' identical challenge in Matt 4: 17. 

''* Also note the priority of rectifying a straying mind-set in Rev 2:5; 3:3, 19; etc. 

zemek: aiming the mind 223 

footing which undergirds all of these — Ta7ieivo(ppooi3vr|. Without a 
proper thinking about oneself in the light of what the Scriptures say 
about man and sin and without a constant dependence upon God and 
his resources there will be no positive noetic inclination resulting in a 
life characterized by obedience. 

Individual Responsibility 

It will be advantageous to follow some of the semantic colloca- 
tions previously discussed along with one additional group {]T\) + 2*7). 

aV/D'tt'. This combination is especially suitable for conveying 
volition and determination. For example, Elihu says of God, "If He 
should determine to do so [iaV vVx D'U^^-DX], ... all flesh would 
perish together. . ." (Job 34:14-15). Man's positive response must 
begin with a serious contemplation of his responsibilities before the 
Lord,''*' since God demands his undivided attention.''*" Following this 
should come the mind-set of which Daniel is a prime example: "But 
Daniel made up his mind [2V + Vy + D'U?; cf. LXX, Theodotion: Kai 
eGexo AaviriX ^Tti tt^v KapSiav auioO] that he would not defile him- 
self . . .(Dan 1:8). 

aV/nw?' Total preoccupation with God and his interests lies at 
the heart of the positive occurrences of this combination. Joshua 
challenged the people to "put away the foreign gods which are in your 
midst, and incline your hearts to ["rx + 23^ + nuj] the Lord, the God 
of Israel" (Josh 24:23). This preoccupation should manifest itself in 
an ethically productive mind-set: "I have inclined my heart to per- 
form [infinitive 4- aV + no]]''*^ Thy statues forever, even to the end" 
(Ps 119:112). 

aV/'|l3- The hiphil of p3 with aV as object followed by the 
infinitive is one of the clearest descriptions of a targeted mind-set in 
the OT.''*^ Two contexts should provide positive examples for emula- 
tion. The chronicler says of Jehoshaphat, "But there is some good in 
you, for you have removed the Asheroth from the land and you have 
set your heart to seek [infinitive + aaV + |1D] God" (2 Chr 19:3). Ezra's 

'"^See D'tt; with D> in Deut 11:18; 32:46; Job 22:22; etc. Cf. the combination of D'ty 
and 3^ in Prov 22:17; 24:32; Jer 31:21; etc. 

Cf. the illustrative challenge of the divinely sent messenger to Ezekiel: "Son of 
man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to (^aV D't^l) all that 1 
am going to show you" (Ezek 40:4). 

Cf. the expected rendering of EK>.iva xr\\ KapSiav |ioO xoO noifiaai in the LXX, 
and remember the psalmist's testimony of Divine enablement in v 36. 

Cf. Eccl 1:13, 17; 8:9, 16; etc., where theis root with aV connotes intense 


example is particularly appropriate, since he was a leader par excel- 
lence among his people. Divine (and human) favor were largely 
attributed to the fact that "Ezra had set his heart to study the law of 
the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances 
in Israel" (Ezra 7:10). His mind-set (33V + pDH) was zeroed in on the 
primary intentions of studying (U'IttV), obeying (nu^y"?")), and ex- 
pounding (IQVVi) God's Word. 

aV/inj. The significance of this combination parallels that of 
pD plus lb. This semantic grouping describes diligence. David com- 
manded the leaders of Israel as follows: "Now set your heart and 
your soul to [infinitive + U'pj + 33*7 + |n3] seek the Lord your God; 
arise, therefore, and build the sanctuary of the Lord God ..." (1 Chr 
22:19).'''^ Once again, Daniel exemplifies this precious key to godly 
living: "'O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I 
am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to 
you.' And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembHng. 
Then he said to me, 'Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day 
that you set your heart [3V + jnj] on understanding this [hiphil infini- 
tive of I'S] and humbling youself [hithpael infinitive of njy] before 
your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to 
your words'" (Dan 10:11-12). Daniel's humble and heavenly mind- 
set explained the consistency of his godly life. 

The previous discussion of the (ppev word-complex (see above) 
introduced its strategic contribution to the biblical teaching on the 
priority of the believer's mind -set. Our Lord's piercing rebuke of 
Peter highlights the importance of noetic orientation: "Get behind 
Me, Satan! You are a stumbling-block to Me; for you are not setting 
your mind on [(ppoveco] God's interests, but man's" (Matt 16:23). The 
target of one's thinking and preoccupation becomes the primary issue, 
as illustrated by the sharp antithesis {aXka) between id toij 6eo0 and 
td Tcov dvGpwTicov. The barometer of anthropocentricity versus theo- 
centricity is the believer's mind-set. 

Colossians 3 deals with the indicative and the imperative of the 
Christian life.''*^ Vv 1-4 are both introductory and foundational: 

If this be so [first-class conditional statement]; if ye were raised with 
Christ, if ye were translated into heaven, what follows? Why you must 
realise the change. All your aims must centre in heaven [id ctvco], where 
reigns the Christ who has thus exalted you, enthroned on God's right 
hand. All your thoughts must abide in heaven [id ctvco (ppoveixE], not 

""Cf. 3V + jnj in 2 Chr 11:16. 

For a helpful refresher on this, see C. F. D. Moule, "The New Life' in Colos- 
sians 3:1-17," RevExp 70 (1973) 481-93. 

zemek: aiming the mind 225 

on the earth [[ir\ id tni xfjg yi\(;]. For, I say it once again, you have 
nothing to do with mundane things: you died, died once for all to the 
world: you are living another life. This life indeed is hidden now: it has 
no outward splendour as men count splendour; for it is a life with 
Christ, a life in God. But the veil will not always shroud it. Christ, our 
life, shall be manifested hereafter; then ye also shall be manifested with 
Him and the world shall see your glory.'"" 

The parallelism and force of the present imperatives of vv 1 and 2 is 
especially germane to the subject at hand.'^° '"Be constantly seeking' 
[^r|T8iTe, V 1] . . . implies perservering effort" and "is a seeking to 
obtain (cf. Matt 6:33; 13:45). The emphasis, though, is not on seeking 
but on the object sought.'*'^' Complementing this is the (ppoveite 
which stresses the believer's "whole bent of . . . life."'" He is continu- 
ally to target his mind -set on the things of God. 

Probably the most definitive teaching on the obligations pertain- 
ing to the believer's mind -set resides in Romans 8. Mickelsen appro- 
priately entitles Rom 8:5-13 "the mind-set of the flesh versus that of 
the Spirit."'" 

Some salient observations will lead to a proper synthesis of the 
theological significance of this passage. Kasemann notes concerning 
(ppoveo) (v 5) and (pp6vr||ia (w 6, 7) that "the slogan (ppoveiv denotes 
the direction not merely of thought but of total existence, which on 
the Semitic view is always oriented consciously or uncousciously to a 
goal."'^'' Ectp^ in this passage is viewed in its fully developed hamar- 
tiological sense: "our fallen, ego-centric human nature and all that 
belongs to it."'" Consequently, to (ppovrnia Tfjg oapKog refers to 

'* Lightfoot's interpretive paraphrase (J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul's Epistles to the 
Colossians and to Philemon [xtpvmi; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971] 208). 

'^°For some valuable commentary, see S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., "IX. Studies in the 
Epistle to the Colossians: Human Taboos and Divine Redemption," BSac 120 (1963) 

'"William Hendriksen, Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (NTC; Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1964) 140. 

'"Johnson, "Human Taboos and Divine Redemption," 212. 

A. Berkeley Mickelsen, "Romans," in The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, ed. by 
Charles F. Pfeiffer and Everette F. Harrison (Nashville: Southwestern Company, 1962) 
1206. He comments there that "the flesh — the principle of rebellion within man — 
produces a certain pattern and way of thinking" (ibid.). 

Ernst Kasemann, Commentary on Romans, trans, and ed. by Geoffrey W. 
Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980)219. 

'"C. E. B. Cranfield, The Epistle to the Romans (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark 
Ltd., 1975) 1.372; cf. 386-87. Similarly: ''Flesh is . . . the whole nature of man, turned 
away from God, in the supreme interest of self, devoted to the creature" (John Peter 
Lang, The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, trans, by Philip Schaff, Commentary on the 
Holy Scriptures, ed. by J. P. Lange [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.] 236). 


"the flesh's (i.e., fallen human nature's) mind, that is, its outlook, 
assumptions, values, desires and purposes. "'^^ 

Contrastingly, 7iveO|aa "refers to the Holy Spirit throughout the 
passage, as is evident in verse 9 ('the Spirit of God . . . the Spirit of 
Christ') and 11 (The Spirit of him who raised Jesus ... his Spirit 
dwells in you')."'" Herein, he is viewed as "operative in the human 
spirit for the production of ethical results."'^* This is particularly 
evident in the phrase to (ppovrijia toO TtveOiaaxoc;.'^^ In the light of 
this, note Cranfield's summary of the mind-set antithesis of v 5: 

We take Paul's meaning in this verse then to be that those who allow 
the direction of their lives to be determined by the flesh are actually 
taking the flesh's side in the conflict between the Spirit of God and the 
flesh, while those who allow the Spirit to determine the direction of 
their lives are taking the Spirit's side.'*'* 

The whole mind-set argument (cf. the ydp introducing vv 5-11) 
provides "an explanation of the reference in v 4 to walking not Kaid 
odpKa but Kaid TtveOjia"'^' which is the essence of the Christian life. 

The law's requirement will be fulfilled by the determination of the 
direction, the set, of our lives by the Spirit, by our being enabled again 
and again to decide for the Spirit and against the flesh, to turn our 
backs more and more upon our own insatiable egotism and to turn our 
faces more and more toward the freedom which the Spirit of God has 
given us. 

Goetzmann concludes. 

This passage makes it abundantly clear that the way one thinks is 
intimately related to the way one lives, ... A man's thinking and striv- 
ing cannot be seen in isolation from the overall direction of his life; the 
latter will be reflected in the aims which he sets for himself.'*^ 

Indeed, the proper aiming of the mind is a key to godly living. 

Cranfield, Romans, 1.386. 

Robert H. Gundry, Soma in Biblical Theology with Emphasis on Pauline 
Anthropology (SNTSMS 29; Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1976) 46; cf. Cran- 
field, ^omam, L 390. 

"'Barton, Spirit. Soul, and Flesh, 180. 

Cranfield is correct: "the genitives Tfjg aapKog and tou 7rv8U[iaTO(; are subjec- 
tive" (/Jowam, 1.386). 

'^Vranfield, Romans, 1.386. 

'"'Ibid., 385. 


^"NIDNTT, s.v. "<pp6vr|ai(;,"by Goetzmann, 2.617. 

zemek: aiming the mind 227 

Corporate Responsibility 

A word also needs to be said about the corporate dimension of 
noetic direction. The verb vouGeTew and its corresponding noun 
voD0eaia, "derived from nous (mind) and tithemi (put) . . . describe 
the exertion of influence upon the nous, implying that there is resis- 
tance. By means of admonition, advice, warning, reminding, teaching 
and spurring on, a person can be redirected from wrong ways and his 
behavior corrected."'" The target is the disposition and will, and the 
activity "seeks to correct the mind to put right what is wrong, to 
improve the spiritual attitude. "'^^ As Acts 20:31, Rom 15:14, Col 1:28 
and 3:16, 1 Thess 5:14, and 2 Thess 3:15 demonstrate, a godly noetic 
orientation is the nucleus of all spiritually effective ministry. 

Our responsibility, whether perceived corporately or individually, 
must be to turn every thought into a prisoner of war (cf. aix|ia>,(OTi^a)) 
which is obedient to Christ (2 Cor 10:5). 

^^*NfDNTT, s.v. "vouecTEQ)," by F. Seller, 1.568. The OT combination of + 131 
3*7 + -VVy ("to speak or appeal to the heart"): "To speak to the heart' in the Old 
Testament consequently means: to move someone to decision" (Wolff, Anthropology 
of the OT, 52) may be conceptually parallel. 

^^^TDNT, s.v. "voeo), KT>..,"by Behm, 4.1019. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 229-245 




Norman L. Geisler 

The central idea of this article is to show that the widely held 
hermeneutical practice of using the alleged purpose (why) of an author 
to determine the meaning (what) of a passage is wrong. First of all, 
we try to show how it is unfounded, since meaning can be known 
apart from purpose. Further, we point to ways in which this practice 
has led to unorthodox conclusions which undermine the authority of 

DOES purpose determine meaning, or does meaning determine 
purpose? Which is the cart and which is the horse? It is common 
among evangelicals to appeal to the purpose of the author to deter- 
mine the meaning of a passage. Is this legitimate? Are there any 
dangers in so doing? 

In this study I propose two theses in answer to these important 
questions: (1) Purpose does not determine meaning. Rather, meaning 
determines purpose. (2) Using purpose to determine meaning some- 
times leads to unorthodox conclusions, including a denial of the full 
verbal inspiration (inerrancy) of Scripture. 


A. Several Meanings of the Word Intention 

Evangelicals often refer to the intention of the biblical author in 
order to determine the meaning of a passage. According to one mean- 
ing of the word intention, this is certainly important, for surely the 
meaning resides in what the author intended by the passage as opposed 
to what the readers may take it to mean to them.' However, the word 

'See E. D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University, 1961), 
chap. 1. 


intention, like most words, has several meanings. Not all of these 
usages are legitimate in this connection. The following sentences pro- 
vide examples of four different meanings of the word intention. In- 
tention may mean: 

(1) plan, as in: "I intend to go tomorrow"; 

(2) purpose, as in: "My intention was to help you"; 

(3) thought in one's mind, as in: "I didn't intend to say that"; 

(4) expressed meaning, as in: "The truth intended in John 3:16 is 

B. The Legitimate Sense of the Word Intention in the Context of 

First, evangelicals who believe in verbal^ inspiration of Scripture 
should not use intention in the third sense when referring to the 
meaning of Scripture, for the locus of meaning (and truth) is not in 
the author's mind behind the text of Scripture. What the author 
meant is expressed in the text. The writings (ypatpTi) are inspired, not 
the thoughts in the author's mind. 

Second, when we speak of understanding the meaning of a text 
we do not refer to some plan which the author had to express this 
meaning, whether or not it got expressed (no. 1 above). All we know 
of the author's intention is what the author did express in the text, 
not what he planned to say but did not express. Our knowledge of the 
author's plan (intention) is limited to the inspired text itself. So to 
speak of an intention which did not get expressed is to shift the locus 
of authority from the text to the author's mind behind the text.^ 

Third, the word intention can mean purpose (no. 3 above). This 
raises the question of whether we should look for the purpose of the 
author when we seek to find out what he really meant. Before we can 
answer this question properly we must define what is meant by the 
word purpose in this connection. The following contrast will clarify 
how we are using these terms: 

(1) Meaning is what the author expressed. 

(2) Purpose is why the author expressed it. 

If this is so, then the question we pose is this: does the purpose 
(why) of the author determine his meaning (what)? Or, does the 
meaning determine the purpose? Our thesis is that purpose does not 

^2 Tim 3:16 refers to the writings (ypacpri) as inspired. Paul spoke of "'words taught 
by the Spirit" (1 Cor 2:13). Over and over again the NT authors use the phrase "It is 
written" to describe the locus of divine authority (cf. Matt 4:4, 7, 10). 

'This shift from the text to the author's intention behind the text is evident in Jack 
Rogers (who follows G. C. Berkouwer). See Rogers, The Authority and Interpretation 
of the Bible (New York: Harper & Row, 1979), 393, 430. 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 231 

determine meaning. Actually, as I shall show later, the reverse is true, 
namely, meaning determines purpose. 

Finally, the proper meaning of the intention of the author is the 
expressed meaning in the text (no. 4). Just as we do not say that the 
beauty is behind the painting, so the hermeneutically discoverable 
meaning is not located behind the text in the author's intention 
(no. 3). Rather, the meaning {intention no. 4) is expressed in the text 
the way beauty is expressed in the pigments on the canvas of a 

The misuse of the word intention, to stand for the purpose (why) 
of the author, rather than for the meaning (what) of the author, often 
leads to unorthodox conclusions. One such conclusion is the denial of 
the full inspiration (inerrancy) of Scripture. This will become appar- 
ent in the discussion of the relation between meaning and purpose 
which follows. 

II. the relation of meaning and purpose 

Meaning can be known independently of knowing the author's 
purpose. Of course, there is a sense in which one always knows the 
purpose of an author: his purpose is to convey his meaning. But in 
this sense it would be circular to claim that purpose determines mean- 
ing, for purpose in this sense simply means to convey the meaning. 
One can know the meaning (what) of a passage (including what we 
should do as a result of knowing the meaning) apart from knowing 
the purpose (why) the author had in mind for expressing that mean- 
ing. If this is so, then purpose could not possibly determine meaning, 
for if it did, then one could not know the meaning unless he first 
knew the purpose. 

A. Select Passages Illustrating the Relation of Meaning and Purpose 

Some "difficult" passages of Scripture will serve as illustrations 
of the point that purpose does not determine meaning. Exod 23:19 is 
a good test case: "Do not boil a kid in its mother's milk." Checking 
only three commentaries (Lange, Keil and Delitzsch, and Ellicott) 
yielded numerous different suggestions as to why the author said this. 
But despite the lack of unanimity or clarity as to the purpose of the 
author there is absolutely no question as to the meaning of the 

"This is to say that language (i.e., a sentence) is not an instrumental cause of 
meaning; it is the formal cause. Individual words (symbols) are the instruments through 
which meaning is conveyed. But language (sentences) is that in which meaning resides. 
The failure to understand this distinction leads some wrongly to think of meaning as 
being behind language rather than being expressed in it. 


The meaning (what) of Exod 23:19 is simply this: Do not put a 
baby goat into a kettle of its mother's milk and heat it up to the 
boiling point. There is no word in the passage of doubtful meaning 
(usage), and every Hebrew who could read (or hear) this command 
knew exactly what it meant. And they knew precisely what he/she 
should do in obedience to this command. 

Furthermore, the meaning would not be different, even if this 
statement were found in a cookbook. It would still mean that baby 
goat's meat should not be boiled in goat's milk. Of course, if it were 
found in a cookbook the significance would be different. Its signifi- 
cance is gained from the fact that it is a command of God in Scrip- 
ture, not merely a human recipe, and from the overall context of this 
command in the Levitical legislation, which imparts theocratic signif- 
icance that it would not have in a cookbook. However, the meaning 
is the same in both cases; only the significance differs. The affirma- 
tion (or command) is the same; only the implications differ. Further, 
even these broader implications are not determined by purpose; they 
are determined by the overall context of who said it, to whom it was 
said, and under what circumstances, etc. But why it was said (other 
than the purpose to communicate this meaning, what) has no deter- 
minative effect on the meaning of what was said. 

However, despite the perfect clarity of the meaning of this pas- 
sage, it is not at all clear what purpose the author of Exodus (Moses) 
had in giving this command. Here are eight of the speculations about 
purpose found within a few minutes in three commentaries. The pro- 
hibition of boihng a kid in its mother's milk was given: 

(1) because this was an idolatrous practice; 

(2) because it was a magical practice to make the land more 

(3) because it was cruel to destroy an offspring in the very means 
(milk) which sustained it; 

(4) because it showed contempt for the parent-child relation; 

(5) because it would profane (symbolically) the Feast of In- 

(6) because God wanted them to use olive oil, not butter, for 

(7) because it was too luxurious or epicurean; 

The truth of the matter is that we do not know for sure the 
purpose of this text. In fact, it doesn't really matter what the purpose 
is. The meaning is clear, and this is all that matters. Meaning stands 
apart from purpose. Understanding purpose is not necessary for 
knowing the meaning of a passage. One can know what is meant (and 
what to do) without knowing why God gave this command. 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 233 

The same point can be made from numerous "difficult" passages. 
The meaning in these passages is clear even if the purpose is not. Note 
the following OT examples: 

(1) Do not eat shrimp (Lev 11:10). 

(2) Do not wear a garment which mixes wool and linen (Deut 

(3) Do not have sex during the woman's menstrual period (Lev 

Despite the fact that we do not know the purpose for these 
commands, the meaning is perfectly clear. The fact is that knowing 
their meaning is not dependent on knowing their purpose. 

B. Several Reasons Why Purpose Does Not Determine Meaning 

The thesis that purpose does not determine meaning can now be 
supported by several additional arguments. 

First, if purpose determined meaning, then we could not know 
the meaning (what) of a passage apart from knowing its purpose 
(why). But the above illustrations show clearly that meaning can be 
known apart from knowing purpose. So in spite of whatever added 
light may be cast on a passage by knowing one or more of the 
author's purposes, in no sense is the basic meaning of the passage 
dependent on knowing these purposes. Knowing the purpose can help 
illuminate the significance(s) of a passage, but it does not determine 
its meaning. That is, knowing the purpose(s) may aid understanding 
how the author intended the meaning to be applied to the original 
readers (hearers), but it no more determines meaning than application 
(how) determines interpretation (what). In short, how does not deter- 
mine what any more than why the author said it determines what is 
meant. What is meant stands independently of the many ways a truth 
may be applied, for a single interpretation may have many applications 
as well as many implications. For example, the meaning (what) of the 
great commands is to love God with all our heart and our neighbor as 
ourselves. But this meaning does not limit us in the many ways (hows) 
this love can be expressed. Nor does our understanding of this meaning 
guarantee that we see all the implications of this love. The significance 
of love is deeper than the meaning. 

The second reason that purpose cannot be used to determine 
meaning is that there are often many purposes for a text. If meaning 
were determined by a specific purpose of a text, then we would have 
to know which of the many purposes of a text is the purpose. That is, 
how do we know which purpose is hermeneutically determinative? 
Take, for example, the book of Philippians: there are at least four 


purposes for which it was written: (1) to thank them for their gift 
(4:16, 17); (2) to inform them of Paul's well-being (1:12-26); (3) to 
encourage them to rejoice in their faith (3:1; 4:4); and (4) to help 
resolve the conflict between two feuding women (4:1-3). Now which 
of these is the purpose? How do we know for sure? Which purpose 
would we use to determine the meaning of the text? This leads to the 
next reason. 

Third, many times we do not know what purpose(s) the author 
had in mind. Not all authors state their purpose as clearly as John did 
(John 20:30-31). Thus, the purpose of an author is often only a mat- 
ter of conjecture. But if it is conjecture, then understanding the mean- 
ing of the passage is dependent on our guesses! Surely God did not 
plan that the meaning of so much Scripture should be subject to our 
widely divergent guesses. At any rate, to claim that purpose deter- 
mines meaning and to acknowledge (as finitude and humility demand) 
that much of the time it is possible only to conjecture as to the central 
purpose is to admit that frequently we cannot know what the mean- 
ing of Scripture is. 

Fourth, if our conjectures about purpose are often based on 
extra-biblical data (such as conditions, beliefs, or practices of the 
group addressed), then the meaning of Scripture is not self-contained. 
The meaning of Scripture would in fact be dependent on factors not 
found in the biblical text. This is unacceptable for several reasons. 
First of all, it would sacrifice the very heart of protestant hermeneu- 
tics, for it would make extra-biblical protestant scholarship into a 
kind of teaching magisterium of its own. Further, it would make it 
practically impossible for the "laity" to understand the Scripture 
without the aid of "professional" interpretation, since only the latter 
are in command of the extra-biblical data on which the interpretation 
would depend. 

Fifth, if purpose determines meaning there can be no systematic 
theology. For example, it would be impossible to treat traditional 
subjects, such as angelology and demonology. It is probably correct 
to say that it is not the central purpose of any book or section of 
Scripture to teach about angels or demons. But if the central purpose 
determines the meaning, then systematic theology is wrongly collect- 
ing and systematizing all of the incidental aspects of various passages 
which were not part of the determinative meaning of the passage. Not 
only is this true of angels and demons but it is true in most passages 

^Of course our understanding of any text depends on knowing the meaning of the 
words used. So in this sense all the "parts" (words) of the meaning are known apart 
from the text. However, the "whole" of the meaning itself stands alone and is indepen- 
dent of extra-textual factors (see discussion on the hermeneutical circle below under 
"Context Determines Meaning"). 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 235 

of Scripture relating to pneumatology, anthropology, and eschatol- 
ogy, for few passages have these subjects as their central purpose. In 
point of fact, the very concept of systematizing various truths is con- 
trary to the purpose of most (if not all) passages of Scripture. In 
short, the bulk (if not whole) of systematic theology would be built 
on teachings which were not meant (purposed) by any author in any 
passage of Scripture. So if purpose determines meaning, then syste- 
matic theology would be meaningless.^ 

Finally, if knowing the purpose (apart from what the text affirms) 
determines the meaning of that text, then we cannot know the mean- 
ing of any passage of Scripture. Since human interpreters do not have 
supra-human knowledge, their understanding of the author's meaning 
is limited to what is expressed in the text. But purpose is not what; it 
is why. If all we know is what is expressed, then we can never really 
know why. And if knowing what a text means is determined by 
knowing why it was written, then we can never know what it means. 

In summary, if purpose determines meaning then the final 
authority for determining meaning does not reside in the text itself 
but in factors outside the text, such as the alleged purpose of the 
author. In this case we would not have a firm objective basis for 
knowing the absolute truth of God on which man's eternal destiny is 
dependent. If, on the contrary, meaning is not determined by pur- 
pose, but is expressed objectively in the text, then all men who can 
read (or understand by hearing) are capable of knowing the basic 
message from God in Holy Scripture. 

III. HOW stressing purpose leads to unorthodox conclusions 

A brief survey of the use of the principle that purpose determines 
meaning brings some sobering results for orthodox believers. Several 
examples will suffice. 

A. Non-literal Interpretation of Genesis 1 and 2 

Evangelicals have always claimed that Genesis 1 and 2 convey 
information about God's creative acts in the space-time world. While 
evangelicals differ about the details of the time of creation and number 
of the kinds of animals created, there is general agreement that cos- 
mological truths about creation are expressed in these chapters, not 
simply religious truth. 

'Systematic theology is as meaningful as science is, for theology is to the Bible 
(God's special revelation) what science is to nature (God's general revelation). Both are 
a systematic approach to the truths God has revealed in a nonsystematic way. In each 
case God has given the truths and left it for man to organize them in an orderly way. 


Some interpreters of Genesis 1 and 2, however, have generally 
not recognized the scientific and historical nature of the early chapters 
of Genesis.^ Why? Often the answer seems to lie in their acceptance of 
the principle that purpose determines meaning. It is sometimes alleged 
that the purpose of Genesis 1 and 2 is to describe God's creative acts 
in a way that will lead men to worship him. This conjectured purpose 
is used then in a hermeneutically definitive way to explain away the 
obvious affirmations about the creation of animals and humans and 
to open the door for an evolutionary view of origins. In other words, 
if purpose determines meaning, then what seems to be a description 
of literal creation does not really mean this; it is simply a "myth" of 
origin to evoke our worship of God. Thus, by using purpose to 
determine meaning such interpreters have effectively obscured the 
literal meaning of the text of Genesis 1-2. 

The same procedure is used by pro-homosexual interpreters of 
verses like Lev 18:22. The text says, "You shall not lie with a male as 
one lies with a female; it is an abomination." But according to a pro- 
homosexual understanding of this verse one must view this obvious 
prohibition against homosexual acts in view of the purpose of the 
author. Just what was this purpose? According to some pro-gay 
interpreters the purpose was to preserve ritual purity or to avoid idol- 
atry. It was not to make moral pronouncements about the wrongness 
of homosexual acts. Thus, we are told that when one "understands" 
the prohibition in the light of this purpose there is, in fact, no moral 
condemnation here against homosexual acts. 

Rudolph Bultmann's methodology is another example of the 
purpose-determines-meaning hermeneutic in operation. Bultmann 
acknowledged that the NT documents present the life of Christ in 
terms of miraculous stories culminating in the story of the resurrec- 
tion of Christ. However, when these stories are seen in the light of the 
central purpose of the author, which is to evoke an existential com- 
mitment to the Transcendent, then they must be understood as myths. ^ 
These myths do not describe space-time events, but rather, they are 
religious stories designed to evoke an existential commitment to the 
Transcendent. Here again, using purpose to determine meaning has 
led to a distortion and negation of the true meaning of the text. 

'See Harold De Wolf, A Theology of the Living Church (New York: Harper & 
Brothers, 1953), 147; and Langdon Gilkey, Maker of Heaven and Earth (Garden City, 
NY: Doubleday & Company, 1959), 33. 

*See Letha Scanzoni and Virginia Mollenkott, Is the Homosexual My Neighbor? 
(New York: Harper & Row, 1978), 59-60; and Norman Pittenger, Gay Life Styles (Los 
Angeles: The Universal Fellowship, 1977), 80, 81. 

'See Rudolf Bultmann, "New Testament and Mythology," in Reginald H. Fuller, 
trans., Kerygma and Myth: A Theological Debate, ed. Hans Werner Bartsch (London: 
Billing and Sons, 1954), 1-8. 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 237 

Let us take an example of the same procedure practiced by 
someone less liberal. Jack Rogers is well known for his attacks on the 
doctrine of inerrancy. What is not as well known is that he launched 
his attack from this same purpose-determines-meaning basis. '° Rogers 
has not carried it as far as others have, but he has used it to deny the 
historic biblical teaching about the inerrancy of Scripture. Rogers's 
view is particularly dangerous because he not only claims to be 
orthodox, but he also claims to believe in the inspiration and author- 
ity of Scripture. He even insists that in one sense the whole Bible is 
true and without errors." If this is so, then how is it that he can also 
insist that some of the scientific and historical statements of Scripture 
can be mistaken? He can do so because he practices a purpose- 
determines-meaning hermeneutic. According to Rogers, interpreting 
in view of the purpose of the author enables one to accept modern 
higher criticism. He wrote: "Because of his conviction that the pur- 
pose of Scripture was to bring us to salvation in Christ, Berkouwer, 
like Kuyper and Bavinck, was open to the results of critical scholar- 
ship in a way that the Princeton theology was not."'^ Here again 
when purpose is used as hermeneutically determinative of meaning 
the real meaning of Scripture can be obscured or negated. 

Not all evangelicals carry this principle as far as in the foregoing 
examples. However, the same principle seems to be at work even 
among evangelicals who believe inerrancy and all major orthodox 
doctrines. Illustrations of this can be found in interpretations of how 
the NT uses the OT. One example is Ps 8:5, which reads: tjya innpnni 
D'n'^KO, "and you made him a little lower than God (D"'riVKO)." The 
NT quotes this verse, following the LXX: r\Xdtx(i)aac, auiov (3paxu ti 
Ttap' dYYeXoi)(;, "You made him a little lower than the angels" (Heb 
2:7). Some Hebrew scholars prefer to translate D'nVxD in the psalm as 
"God," but at the same time to maintain that the usage of the LXX 
translation's dyyeJioug is appropriate, though not hermeneutically 
determinative for the interpretation of the OT passage itself.'^ How 
then can one believe in the truthfulness of all Scripture (including 

'"Rogers, Authority and Interpretation, 393, 428, and Biblical Authority (Waco, 
TX: Word, 1978), 17, 21, 42, 43. Rogers wrote: "To keep to the thoughts and intentions 
of the biblical writers we must . . . remember that their purpose was to bring us, not 
information in general, but the good news of salvation" {Biblical Authority, 21). 

"in an interview in the Wittenburg Door (Feb. -March, 1980) Rogers said, "Let's 
get the record straight. I have never said verbally or in print, that the Bible has mis- 
takes in it" (p. 21). Kenneth Kantzer also cites Rogers' belief in "the complete truth of 
the Bible ..." in Christianity Today (Sept. 4, 1981), 18. 

'^Jack Rogers, Authority and Interpretation, 428, 429. 

"See Donald Glenn, "Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2: A Case Study in Biblical Herme- 
neutics and Biblical Theology," in Walvoord: A Tribute ed. Donald K. Campbell 
(Chicago: Moody, 1982) 49. 


Hebrews 2) and yet explain how this LXX translation is included in 
the inspired text of Hebrews 2? According to some evangelicals this 
can be accomplished as long as we remember "that the author of 
Hebrews did not intend to say anything about the temporary or per- 
manent inferiority of Christ to angels. His sole purpose in using 
Psalm 8 was ... to identify Jesus with man."'" So it is claimed that 
the purpose of the writer of Hebrews is not to teach anything about 
angels in this passage, but is solely to stress the humanity (and 
humiliation) of Christ.'^ Thus, if this passage is interpreted in the 
light of its central purpose there is no problem. For if this is so then 
the author is not stressing the mistaken part of the quotation but only 
the true part. In this way some believe they have retained a belief in 
inerrancy of Scripture and yet have explained the difference between 
the Hebrew of Psalm 8 and the inspired text of Hebrews 2. In fact, 
other inerrantists, including John Calvin, are cited in support of this 
position.'^ Calvin wrote: "The apostles were not so scrupulous, pro- 
vided they perverted not Scripture to their own purpose. We must 
always have a regard to the end for which they quote passages. . . ."'^ 
Laying aside this debatable statement from Calvin,'^ in principle 
there is no difference between this conclusion and that of the above 
examples where purpose determines meaning. In each of the above 
cases there are the following similarities: 

(1) The text says something is so. 

(2) But for some reason it is believed that this is not so. 

(3) Yet the complete truthfulness of Scripture is claimed. 

"Ibid., 48. 

"if only what the author is concentrating on is true but not everything he affirms, 
then two serious problems result. First, the classic statement of the inspiration of Scrip- 
ture would not be true that "whatever the Bible says [affirms], God says [affirms]." 
This means that the Bible may be affirming some things that God is not affirming. If 
this is so then the Bible is not the Word of God; it simply contains the Word of God. 
Second, if truth is not centered in what the text actually says (affirms), but only what 
the author is concentrating on, then hermeneutics is reduced to a guessing game about 
the state of the author's consciousness. In short, the focus has been shifted from the 
objective text to the subjective area of an author's intention behind the text. 

'*Ibid., 47. 

"As cited by S. Lewis Johnson, The Old Testament in the New: An Argument for 
Biblical Inspiration (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 64. 

' Valvin may be interpreted another way than implied here. Calvin does not really 
say that by using the purpose (why) of the biblical author one can explain away a 
mistake the author makes. Rather, Calvin simply points out that the NT writers did 
not always use the exact words of the OT writers they quoted, but they did remain 
faithful to the meaning of the OT texts they quoted. In Calvin's own words, the biblical 
writers "have careful regard for the main object so as not to turn Scripture to a false 
meaning, but as far as words are concerned, as in other things which are not relevant to 
the present purpose, they allow themselves some indulgence." {Calvin 's New Testament 
Commentaries [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979], 12.136; emphasis added.) 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 239 

(4) This conclusion is justified by an appeal to the purpose of the 
author as the key to what the text really means. 

In short the purpose-determines-meaning hermeneutic is used to 
explain a "mistake" in the text. For what is not so is believed to be 
outside the purpose of the text and therefore not contrary to inerrancy. 

Of course there is a difference in the "size" or importance of the 
mistakes thus explained from person to person in the above examples. 
Bultmann uses the purpose-determines-meaning procedure to deny 
the essentials of the Faith, and homosexuals use it to justify immoral 
activity. Others use it to explain minor difficulties in the text. But for 
everyone there are places in which what the text actually says is con- 
sidered wrong. So regardless of the size of the error in the various 
examples, the fact is that in each one the purpose of the author (as 
the interpreter sees it) is used to justify rejecting what the text actually 

This next example does not fit the above pattern, but it does 
reveal a misuse of the purpose of the author. It is generally agreed 
that John states his purpose for writing his Gospel when he says, 
"that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ" (John 20:31). So in 
this case we do not have to guess; we know for sure what his overall 
purpose is. Since this is the case, if purpose determines meaning, then 
it would follow that whenever there is any difficulty in knowing what 
a given passage means one could appeal to this purpose to help 
explain the difficulty. One writer takes this to imply that we should 
limit our application of the truths of the Gospel to what the author 
intended (purposed). '^ For example, some claim that how Jesus 
approached the woman at the well should not be used to teach how 
we can witness to others about Christ. For they say the author did 
not so intend this passage. They insist John intended this passage not 
to teach us how to witness but to show us that Jesus was the Messiah 
who could give living water. 

Several things seem evident about this understanding of John 4. 
First, purpose is being used as hermeneutically determinative of 
meaning. Second, why the passage was written is used to Umit how 
the passage can be legitimately applied. In short, there is a two-fold 
confusion. There is the already familiar problem of using the purpose 
(why) to determine meaning (what). But there is the additional confu- 
sion of using purpose (why) to limit application (how). But this is 
wrong. For simply because an author may have envisioned a particu- 
lar application of the truth he affirmed does not mean that this is the 
only appropriate application of that meaning. 

See Sidney Greidanus, Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching 
Historical Texts (J oronio: Wedge Publications Foundation), 70-71. 


This hermeneutical mistake violates several principles. First, it is 
contrary to the inspired usage of one Scripture by other Scripture. 
For example, the meaning (what) of Hos 11:1 ("Out of Egypt have I 
called my son") has its application in Hosea to the nation of Israel. 
However, in Matt 2:15 its application is different; it is to the return of 
Christ from Egypt. Now if application must be limited to the way the 
original author applied it, then the divinely authoritative apostle 
Matthew made a mistake in his inspired writing. Some would justify 
this kind of error by appealing to a so-called "inspired liberty" of a 
biblical writer or to imply that he took leave of the Holy Ghost to 
change the intended meaning of the author expressed in the text.^° 
But it seems to me this negates the whole evangelical hermeneutic. 
The inspired writings of the NT cannot be mistaken in how they use 

Further, if the application (how) of a passage is limited to the 
purpose (why), which really determines the meaning (what), then there 
is no way to preach (and apply) much of the Bible to most believers 
in the world today. For how a passage is applied will depend on the 
culture in which the person lives. "Lift holy hands [in prayer] (1 Tim 
2:8); "Greet the brethren with a holy kiss" (1 Thess 5:26); and women 
praying with a veil over their face (1 Cor 11:13) are only a few of the 
examples which come to mind. In each case the what (meaning) is 
absolute but the how (application) is relative to the culture. For 
example, 1 Thess 5:26 is an absolute obligation to greet fellow be- 
lievers. Precisely what means (how) this greeting should take will 
depend on the culture. For some it will be a kiss, for others a hug, 
and for still others a handshake. The interpretation (what) is the same 
for all cultures but the application (how) will be different from cul- 
ture to culture. There is another way to view the fallacy of tying the 
application to the purpose (and meaning). If the application is tied to 
the meaning, when the application changes, the meaning must change 
with it. But if the meaning changes then so does the truth which that 
meaning expresses also change. And if truth changes then it is not 
absolute but in process. Thus, we have a denial of the absolute or 
unchangeable truth of Scripture. 

Finally, if application is inseparably connected with the purpose 
(and meaning) of the author then we have placed a straight-jacket on 
the Holy Spirit. This would mean that we must apply all Scripture 

The recent "Chicago Statement on BibHcal Hermeneutics" by the International 
Council on Biblical Inerrancy (Nov., 1982) pointedly addresses this issue as follows: 
"WE DENY that Scripture may be interpreted in such a way as to suggest that one 
passage corrects or militates against another. We deny that later writers of Scripture 
misinterpreted earlier passages of Scripture when quoting from or referring to them" 
(Article XVII). 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 241 

the same way the original author did. Besides the already noted prob- 
lem that we are usually only guessing as to what the author's intended 
application was, this would make some passages of Scripture un- 
preachable in most churches. How many churches have drunkards at 
the Lord's Table (1 Cor 11:21)? Or sons cohabitating with their step- 
mothers (1 Cor 5:1)? Must we limit the Holy Spirit in applying the 
same truth (of the wrongness of these and numerous other acts) to the 
same kind of situations which occasioned the apostles' original exhor- 
tations? Surely a more sensible approach is to concentrate our her- 
meneutical efforts on getting the right interpretation of the passage. 
Once we are assured of this, then any application of that truth to any 
one who in any way needs that truth will be legitimate. Let us not 
hermetically seal the Holy Spirit into the container of our herme- 
neutics so as to suffocate the fresh breath he wishes to breathe on our 
lives as he applies the unchanging truth of Scripture to our changing 
situations. Those who oppose this method are ignoring the numerous 
divinely authorized examples of the same truth being applied in dif- 
ferent ways within the Scripture itself.^' 

IV. AN alternative VIEW: LOOK for meaning not purpose 

If we are not to use purpose to determine meaning then what 
does determine meaning? In order to answer this question properly, 
we must first make an important distinction. Technically speaking, 
the interpreter does not determine (cause) meaning by any hermeneu- 
tical procedure. Meaning is determined by the author; it is discovered 
by the reader (listener). Only minds cause meaning by (in) a medium 
of expression which other minds are thereby able to discern. So when 
we speak loosely of "determining" the meaning of the author we refer 
to the active hermeneutical process by which we discover the meaning 
which the author expressed. But since the process of interpretation is 
an active one there is some sense in which the reader is "determining" 
what the writer meant. 

A. Context Determines (Helps Us to Discover) Meaning 

Purpose does not determine meaning; context determines mean- 
ing. First, this can be seen with respect to how a word is used in a 
sentence. Although we speak of the different meanings of words, 
technically speaking, words do not have any meaning. Words have 
different usages in sentences; sentences have meaning. There is no 

^'Zech 12:10 ("They shall look on me whom they have pierced") is applied both to 
the first coming of Christ (John 19:37) and to his second coming (Rev 1:7). Isaiah's 
teaching (chap. 53) about Jesus bearing our sickness is applied to both spiritual healing 
(1 Pet 2:24) and also to physical healing (Matt 8:17). 


intrinsic meaning to isolated entities such as words any more than 
there is a meaning to letters of which words are composed. Like 
broken pieces of colored glass, words have no meaning unless they 
are formed into an overall picture or framework which expresses 
some thought or feeling. When the broken glass is formed into a 
cathedral window or the individual words structured into a poem 
they are given meaning by the overall Gestalt or order expressed by 
the mind. The meaning, however, is not in the individual words (or 
pieces of glass) but in the overall mosaic or structure into which they 
are intentionally shaped. Thus, it is their form or context which 
determines their meaning; the whole determines the parts. 

What is true of the relation of individual words in a sentence is 
similarly true of the relation of individual sentences in a paragraph, 
and of a paragraph in a whole book. That is to say, the same series of 
words can have a different meaning in a different context. For ex- 
ample, the sentence "Love the world" has a different meaning when 
used in the context of an exhortation against lust than it has in a 
paragraph about our need for compassion for the lost. 

In the final analysis, the meaning of the smaller unit is deter- 
mined by the broader context. This same principle applies as we 
move from word to sentence to paragraph to book to the whole 
Bible. But in each case it is not why (purpose) the author used the 
smaller unit in the larger, but how it fits into the overall picture (or 
meaning) he is portraying. It is misleading to inquire about the pur- 
pose for which (why) an artist used a triangular piece of blue glass to 
portray the sky in an unfilled triangular hole in the section of the 
mosaic portraying a sky. He used it because of how it fits into that 
position which conveys the desired meaning he wished to express. 
Thus the real question leading to the discovery of the meaning of the 
parts in relation to the whole is how the part fits into the overall 
picture, not the purpose for which it is there. It is obviously there 
because the author put it there. And he put it there because of how it 
fitted into the picture of the overall meaning it was his purpose to 
express. The question is: how do the small meaning units (m) fit into 
the larger unit of meaning (M)? The question is never, how does pur- 
pose (P) determine meaning? It is, how does overall meaning (M) 
determine particular meaning (m)? 

The situation may be diagrammed as follows: 

Wrong View Right View 

Purpose determines meaning Meaning determines purpose 

P-M M-P 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 243 

Or to put it all together — including the smaller units of meaning, the 
overall meaning, and the purpose — the situation could be diagrammed 
as follows: 


This raises the question of the "hermeneutical circle," for the 
whole is made up of the parts. Yet the parts are made up by the 
whole. Is this not a vicious circle, an impossible situation? It certainly 
would be if the parts determined the whole in the same sense that the 
whole determined the parts. Fortunately this is not the case. The fol- 
lowing diagram illustrates how the parts relate to the whole in a dif- 
ferent way than the whole relates to the parts. 

puzzle ;ir^ _ _ ^^ pieces 
painting ;i:r~_ _ _ "I^^ strokes 

building ^^T" rr^ bricks 

mosaic ^ir~_ _ _~r~^ fragments 

It is obvious from these illustrations that the whole is related to 
the parts by way of determination, but the parts merely make a con- 
tribution to the whole. That is, the whole gives structure to the parts, 
whereas the parts provide the stuff for that form. In short, the parts 
are the material cause but the whole is the formal cause of the overall 
meaning (M). So it is that the small units of meaning (m) contribute 
to the larger meaning (M) in Scripture, whereas the larger meaning 
provides the determinative context for understanding the smaller units. 
It is in this sense that overall meaning (M) determines particular 
meanings (m). But purpose does not determine meaning. 

B. Meaning Determines Purpose 

Not only does purpose not determine meaning, but just the re- 
verse is true. There is a real sense in which the meaning of a passage 
determines its purpose. For once we know what God said in Scripture 
we automatically know why he said it. He said it for the purpose of 
expressing this truth to us so that we could know and obey it. The 
purpose of all Scripture is for us to understand (and obey) the mind 
of God on the matter revealed. The purpose (why) of Scripture is 
always to convey the meaning (what). So, .^ontrary to a widely 
accepted hermeneutic, meaning is the "horse*' and purpose is the 
"cart." To claim that purpose determines the meaning is to get the 
cart before the horse. 


C. Where does the Central Unity of a Passage Reside? 

Many students of Scripture are so accustomed to looking for the 
central purpose of a book that they feel that the method proposed 
here will rob them of the primary objective of looking for the central 
purpose of a book. If we should not look for purpose of a passage, 
then for what should we look? In brief, the answer is, we should look 
for the unifying theme of the book. We should ask what it is that 
holds the whole book together the way the picture unifies all the 
pieces of a puzzle. That overall order is the unifying theme. 

To put it another way, we should look for the overall argument 
of the author. This can be done by tracing the premises, by observing 
how they build, and by noting the conclusions the author draws from 
them. But whether we call it unifying theme or overall argument we 
are looking for the what (meaning), not the why (purpose) of a book. 
Herein lies the key to understanding the Word of God. On the con- 
trary, seeking the alleged purpose of the author and interpreting the 
parts in the light of it will be both confusing and misleading. It will 
inevitably lead to a distortion of the very meaning which we allegedly 
seek to understand, no matter how sincere or scholarly the approach 
may be. 

D. Relating Purpose and Meaning: A Summary 

1 . Purpose is not hermeneutically determinative of meaning. Why 
something is said never determines the meaning of what is said. 

2. Purpose is formally independent of meaning. One can under- 
stand what is meant, even if he does not understand why it was said. 

3. Using purpose to determine meaning leads to a distortion of 
the true meaning by reshaping the meaning to fit the purpose. 

4. Using purpose to determine meaning confuses application 
(why) with interpretation (what). It confuses the content of the mes- 
sage with the behavioral change in the lives of the readers envisioned 
by the author. 

5. Using purpose to determine meaning is a hermeneutical form 
of "the end (purpose) justifies (validates) the means (meaning)" prin- 
ciple. It is hermeneutical utilitarianism.^^ 

This is not to deny that understanding purpose is often interesting 
and even illuminating. For how a passage is applied or why an author 
wrote it (that is, what changes he purposed in the readers) can be 

"The end does not justify the means either in ethics or in hermeneutics. The end 
manifests the means, but it does not justify it. The means must justify themselves. If 
there is no justification for the means then they are unjustified. This apphes to meaning 
as well as to values. 

geisler: purpose and meaning in scripture 245 

helpful in understanding the significance of the passage. However, to 
limit the application of the passage to our conjectures about the 
author's purpose, or to eliminate certain aspects of truth in the pas- 
sage because they are not believed to be necessary to the central pur- 
pose, is hermeneutically illegitimate. It in fact may lead to a denial of 
the full inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, as well as other 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 247-269 




Jack Barentsen 

Psalms 51 and 32 arose out of the same historical circumstances 
but reflect a different time of composition. Both psalms, however, are 
highly structured; this is indicated by various features such as paral- 
lelism and chiasm, repetition of key terminology, and important 
structural markers. These point to a twofold division in each psalm. 
The second division of each psalm contains the main thrust in the 
flow of thought, so that renewal and praise (Psalm 51) and teaching 
sinners God's ways (Psalm 32) are the prominent ideas. 

This essay uses structural analysis as a tool for contextual analy- 
sis of the two psalms. John Callow 's A Semantic Structure Analysis 
of Second Thessalonians serves as the model for the work under- 
taken here. The advantage of structural analysis is its assumption that 
human thought is organized; thus, an analysis of the structure of bib- 
lical texts should prove very helpful as a tool for biblical theology 
(see appendix). 



THE task of combining exegesis and theology is one of the most 
difficult but also one of the most fruitful challenges in biblical 
studies. It requires the interpreter to make the detailed observations 
resulting from exegesis yield theological conclusions, while avoiding 
the proof-texting method typical of some systematic theologies. I 
have therefore endeavored in this study to avoid details which would 
distract from the goal of contributing to a biblical theology of sin and 

Ed. by Michael F. Kopesec (Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1982). 


man, while elaborating on those details which support my reconstruc- 
tion of the flow of thought in the psalms. 

In order to avoid unnecessary detail, a method of contextual 
analysis as developed by associates of Wycliffe Bible Translators will 
be used.^ Accordingly, the structure of the psalms is analyzed first. 
The results of this analysis are presented in an overview chart which 
indicates the relationships between the various constituents (that is, 
divisions, subdivisions, etc.) of the psalms. 

After the structural analysis, the flow of thought of the psalms is 
surveyed in order to arrive at an understanding of the meaning. How- 
ever, since it exceeds the boundaries of this study to delineate all the 
evidence for a proper understanding of the psalms, only evidence 
relevant to the biblical theological argument will be adduced. The 
results of this analysis of meaning are synthesized in a thematic out- 
line. This outline contains constituent titles, which identify the number 
of verses concerned, the type of unit these verses represent (division, 
section, paragraph cluster, paragraph, etc.; these units do not neces- 
sarily conform to the more technical use in Callow's Second Thessa- 
lonians, but rather serve here as convenient labels for the hierarchy of 
constituents), and the role this constituent plays in the flow of 
thought of the psalms, indicated by the term "role." The outline also 
describes the contents of each constituent, the "constituent theme." 
These themes differ from common phrase outlines in that they repre- 
sent both in form and wording the content of the verses; that is, the 
themes will consist of full sentences of a grammatical structure analo- 
gous to the verses represented. This will in turn provide the appro- 
priate basis for a theological analysis of the psalms. 

Background of Psalms 51 and 32 

These psalms have traditionally been identified as two of the 
seven penitential psalms.^ The others are Psalms 6, 38, 102, 130, and 
143. Of these, Psalm 51 is perhaps one of the finest examples of a 
penitential psalm, while Psalm 32, although more didactic, still fits 
the same mold. 

Psalm 51, as shown by vv 1-2," concerns David's sin with Bath- 
sheba which is described in 2 Samuel 1 1 and for which David was 
rebuked by the prophet Nathan in the 12th chapter. Although these 
titles may not be original with the composition of the psalms, they at 
least represent an early tradition. Assuming an early date for the 

See Callow, Second Thessalonians, 1-15. 

^Norman Snaith, The Seven Psalms (London: Epworth, 1964) 9. 
■"Throughout, the Hebrew verse enumeration will be followed. Thus, the title will 
include w 1-2, while the psalm itself starts with v 3 and runs through v 21. 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 249 

psalm and Davidic authorship, there is no problem accepting the 
accuracy of the title. 

Psalm 32 is also Davidic, but the title does not include informa- 
tion about the setting as does the title of Psalm 51. Most commenta- 
tors associate this psalm with the same series of events relating to 
David's sin. But there is a clear difference of style and mood between 
the two psalms. It seems that Psalm 51 represents the immediate out- 
cry of David after Nathan's rebuke, while Psalm 32 was composed 
later after more reflection on these experiences. 

This connection can be substantiated internally. In Ps 51:15, 
David vows to teach sinners God's ways upon being granted the res- 
toration of the joy of his salvation. In Ps 32:8 David fulfills this vow 
by giving instruction in the way people should walk.^ Other observa- 
tions also suggest this. Psalm 32 is more didactic, with its well 
thought-out contrasts, while Psalm 51 seems more emotional. This 
would indicate that Psalm 32 was written after some reflection upon 
the event, while Psalm 51 mirrors David's turmoil in guilt. It is there- 
fore reasonable to believe that Psalm 51 is the earlier of the two 

On the other hand, it must be noted that the emotional flavor of 
Psalm 51 does not imply a lack of reflection. Dalglish, in his monu- 
mental work on this psalm, has pointed out many parallels with 
other ancient Near Eastern literature, Egyptian as well as Sumero- 
Akkadian.^ Thus, it may well be that Psalm 51 belongs in a category 
of highly structured literature apparently common throughout the 
ancient Near East; this kind of composition used certain traditional 
expressions to indicate submission to a superior and repentance on 
the part of a subordinate. 

But if "the Hebrew psalms of lamentation are indebted to the 
Sumero-Accadian, they have in turn contributed their own most de- 
finitive creativity in their formulation."^ Thus, none of the theological 
biases of the ancient Mesopotamian religions need have influenced 
Hebrew common Psalmody. In addition, even if Psalm 51 follows a 
traditional pattern, that does not diminish the emotional value of the 
poem. Rather, it heightens the genius of the poet who was able to use 
certain set forms to convey such deep emotional struggles. 

In this study, ancient Near Eastern parallels will not be consid- 
ered, not because they may not be valuable, but because they are not 
germane to our topic. 

'See F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Psalms, vol. 1, trans. F. Bolton, in 
Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament (reprint; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1970) 

*Edward R. Dalglish, Psalm Fifty-One in the Light of Ancient Near Eastern Pat- 
ternism (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1962). 

'ibid., 277. 



Structural Analysis: Divisions of the Psalm 

Many expositors of Psalm 51 (as well as of many other passages 
in Scripture) fail to account for the structure simply because they do 
not recognize it. For instance, Harrison* states that rigid analysis of 
the psalm is difficult because of the emotional upheaval. "David inter- 
mingled and repeated the petitions which clamored for utterance." It 
is quite true that Psalm 51 is strongly emotional, but this does not 
imply that the psalm was "blurted out" as it came to David's mind. 

Dalglish takes another approach. Analyzing the literary features 
of Psalm 51 in the light of ancient Near Eastern parallels, he develops 
a strophic structure based on observations about meter, and on this 
builds an outline to describe the logical flow of thought in the psalm. 
Although this approach has a certain validity, a more careful analysis 
can be done on the basis of the internal coherence of the text. First, 
to build an outline on strophic structure is somewhat hazardous 
because of the uncertainties about meter and strophes in Hebrew poe- 
try. Instead, an analysis of the parallelisms in the psalm is likely to 
yield more accurate results. Second, word repetition within the psalm 
is not accounted for in Dalglish's method. But repetition of key terms, 
coupled with the use of structural markers such as "therefore," "since," 
"and," and so on, is one of the more obvious tools available to the 

There is little doubt that there are three main divisions in the 
psalm. Vv 1-2 are recognized as the title and setting, while vv 20-21 
are generally seen as material extraneous to the psalm proper. Some 
even go so far as to state that the last two verses are a later liturgical 
addition;' even if this is not true, it must be acknowledged that 
vv 20-21 manifest a shift in thought from the body of the psalm, 

The main body of the psalm rather easily falls into two sections. 
The shift of terminology from one section to the other is the clearest 
distinguishing feature of the two sections. Vv 3-9 are primarily con- 
cerned with sin, purity, and cleansing, while vv 12-19 are more 
concerned with restoration and renewal of heart and spirit, as the 
following list based on Auffret's analysis shows:" 

'E. F. Harrison, "A Study of Psalm 51," BSac 92 (1935) 29. 

'Dalglish, Psalm Fifty-One, 77-81. 

'"ibid., 77. 

"Auffret, "Note sur la Structure Litteraire de PS LI 1-19," VT26 (1976) 145. 

barentsen: psalms 5i and 32 251 


vv 12-19 

v^n - 3, 5 

3"? - 12, 19 

py - 4, 7 

mi - 12, 13, 14, 19 

xun - 4, 5, 6, 7, 9 

xn3 - 12 

VI - 6 

tt^in - 12 

033 - 4, 9 

31tr - 14, 15 

■ini: - 4, 9 

nno - 3 

In addition to these differences in terminology, note that vv 12-19 
contain another theme (not elaborated by Auffret). ]^'^ (vv 10, 14) 
and n0U7 (v 10) speak of joy and gladness; Ifib (v 15) and pT (v 16) 
expand the theme by turning joy into testimony; nVnn and HDU? (v 17) 
further the idea by turning to praise; and psn and n:i"l (v 18) with the 
negation of nT3 (v 19) show how these things are desired by God. 

This survey of terminology shows that the movement of the psalm 
is from pardon of sin in vv 3-9 to the restoration of the heart in 
vv 12-19.'^ But the latter section also describes in considerable detail 
man's reactions to God's restoration. The theme, then, may be more 
appropriately identified as praise resulting from God's restoration of 
the soul. 

So far, vv 10-11 have not been considered. These verses seem 
out of place, because v 10 already is concerned with joy, the theme of 
vv 12-19, while v 1 1 still cries out for forgiveness, the theme of vv 3- 
9. V 1 1 uses Xtjn and pV, as in vv 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, and the term nno, also 
found in V 3; V 10 has ]^'0 and n3T, found in vv 14 and 19 respec- 
tively.'^ It is therefore reasonable to identify vv 10-11 as the hinge of 
the psalm. The main sections of the central division are therefore 3-9, 
11 and 10, 12-19. 

Auffret has pointed out that the unity of the first section is main- 
tained by parallelisms between 3-4 and 8-9 on the one hand, and 
5-6a and 6b-7 on the other. The relationship between vv 4 and 9 is 
shown by the use of the same words — 033, KUn and inu. The rela- 
tionship between vv 3 and 8 is through similar terms, lon of v 3 cor- 
responding with n?3X in V 8, and DOm in v 3 corresponding with n03n 
in V 8.''* Thus the structure is parallel in an a-b-a-b pattern. 

The internal structure of vv 5-7, however, is not parallel, but 
chiastic. In vv 5 and 7 the first person singular is prominent in both 
independent pronouns and verbal forms, while in 6a-6b, the second 
person singular is more prominent (although one verb is still in first 


"Ibid., 145-46. 

"Ibid., 142. 



Constituent Organization 

Psalm 51:1-21 

PC 1-2 



3-9, 11 



3-4, 8-9 





PC 3-19 










10, 12-19 



12-13, 18-19 




PC 20-21 






I n I 

PCC: 3 4 5 6a 6b 7 


8 9 

DC = Division Constituent 
P = Paragraph 


PC = Psalm Constituent 

PCC = Paragraph Cluster Constituent 

12 13 14 15 16al6b 17 18 19 

PCI = Paragraph Cluster 
SC = Section Constituent 

Chart I: Overview of Psalm 51 

person by way of transition).'^ The structure here is chiastic in an 
a-b-b-a pattern. A key to distinguishing the transition from vv 3-4 to 
vv 5ff. is the use of 'D, which is often an indicator of the transition 
from introduction to body. Here "'D answers the question "Why?" — 
that is, why the forgiveness is necessary.'^ 

The basis of unity in the second section is similar. Vv 12 and 19 
have mi and d"? in common, while mi reoccurs in v 13, and v 18 
introduces riDT, which also occurs in v 19. Thus, vv 12-13, 18-19 
form a unit and are arranged chiastically (a-b-b-a). 

Vv 14 and 16a share VU;\ while v 15, with V0D and xun, uses 
antonyms of plli found in 16b, thus showing a parallel arrangement 

These structures with their parallel and chiastic patterns are 
shown in Chart I. 

'^Ibid., 145. 

"Dalglish, Psalm Fifty-One, 104. 

'^Auffret, "Note," 143-44. 

barentsen: psalms 5i and 32 253 

It is interesting to note the many synonymous parallelisms in 
Psalm 51, especially since this feature is different from Psalm 32, 
where most terminological relationships are contrastive. This survey 
has also shown that the psalm is highly structured, and consequently 
that there is no basis for the idea that because the psalm is emotional, 
it is unstructured. The task at hand is to show how the meaning is 
packaged within this structure. 

Reconstruction of the Meaning: The Unity of the Psalm 

The main purpose of this part of the study is to determine how 
the two main sections of the psalm (vv 3-9, 11 and 10, 12-19) relate 
to each other. But first the content of the sections needs to be 

The content of the two sections 

The first section consists of three paragraph clusters (vv 3-4, 
5-7, and 8-9). As is evident from the previous analysis paragraph 
clusters 3-4 and 8-9 are parallel to each other. In order to establish 
the head (that is, main thought) of these verses, we need to discuss the 
relationship between 5-7 and 3-4, 8-9. 

V 5 begins with 'D, which indicates major transition, as already 
noted. It makes a logical progression from the statement of vv 3-4 to 
what follows and seems to give the reason for the plea for forgive- 
ness.'^ Thus, vv 3-4, 8-9 seem to be the logical consequence of vv 5- 
7. The best way to reconstruct the flow of thought is that vv 3-4 
introduce the thesis statement, after which support for the statement 
is given in vv 5-7. Vv 8-9 the close with a recapitulation, or rather 
amplification, of the thesis statement, implementing some of the con- 
cepts of vv 5-7. Therefore, the head of 3-9, 11 is vv 3-4. 

This is further substantiated by considering v 1 1, the verse which 
together with v 10 forms the hinge of the argument in the psalm. V 1 1 
repeats the main theme of vv 3-9 as shown in the structural analysis. 
This theme consists of a plea for forgiveness. Since v 1 1 is a transition 
verse, it may be thought of as a brief summary of the main theme of 
vv 3-9 before the thought of the psalm progresses. Now, if v 1 1 puts 
forth a plea for forgiveness as the main theme, then the key to vv 3-9 
must be a statement or plea of the same content. Thus, it becomes 
clear that either the opening statement of vv 3-4 or its recapitulation 
in vv 8-9 contains the thesis of this section. This is why the outline 
below contains as the theme of the section vv 3-9, 1 1 the words 
"Cleanse me from my sin," and also includes in parentheses the rea- 
son for this plea, namely "for against you only I have sinned." 

"Dalglish, Psalm Fifty-One, 104; Delitzsch, Psalms, 2. 135. 


The second section also consists of three paragraph clusters 
(vv 12-13, 14-17, and 18-19) with the introductory paragraph of 
V 10. As in the first section, if v 10 is a transition verse, we may 
expect an important clue from its content to the main emphasis of 
this section. This verse consists of a plea to God to cause the peti- 
tioner to be glad and rejoice. Consequently, we should find in vv 12- 
19 a statement dealing with the concept of joy and gladness. 

The statement about joy is found in v 14 and again in vv 16b and 
17. Thus, it would appear that vv 14-17 constitute the main para- 
graph cluster within this section. This is especially revealing in light of 
the fact that most often v 12, "create in me a clean heart," is lifted out 
as the most central thought of the psalm, while our analysis here 
shows that somehow this verse is subordinate to the concepts in 
vv 14-17. 

This analysis is also supported by another occurrence of ""D, this 
time in v 18. Again it seems to introduce a reason for the thesis 
statement just given, thereby subordinating vv 18-19 to vv 14-17. 
And since vv 18-19 are parallel with vv 12-13, it follows that the 
latter verses are essentially subordinate to vv 14-17 as well. Hence, 
the outline places the paragraph cluster of vv 14-17 as head of the 
section vv 10, 12-19. 

The content of vv 14-17, however, needs to be analyzed more 
closely. As already indicated, vv 14 and 16a seem to be related to 
each other. The same holds for vv 15 and 16b. However, v 17 remains 
to be discussed. 

The progression of thought from vv 14 to 15, repeated in vv 16a 
to 16b, seems to be that God's restoration (or forgiveness) results in a 
human witness (or song). V 17, however, does not seem to have this 
movement from divine action to human response; instead, it ascribes 
both activities to God's working. God has to open the mouth (through 
restoration and forgiveness) so that he may be praised. It emphasizes 
to a greater degree the sovereignty of God. This in turn prepares the 
way for the theme of conformity to God's desires as presented in 
vv 18-19 and also vv 20-21. This implies then, that v 17 is the key 
portion of vv 14-17, and thereby also of the whole section vv 10, 
12-19. So, the outline contains as the theme for this section the 
words "cause me to declare your praise" and adds in parentheses the 
concepts of vv 12-13 and 18-19, interpreted as means, "by creating in 
me a clean heart." 

The contents of these two main sections may be summarized as 
follows. A prayer for pardon, begun in vv 3-4 and finished in vv 8-9, 
encloses the reason for the need for pardon, namely, great sinfulness 
as confessed by David. From pardon, the psalm moves toward 

"See Auffret, "Note," 143. 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 255 

restoration. A prayer for restoration, begun in vv 12-13 and reformu- 
lated in vv 18-19, forms the basis of (or even the means of) a divinely 
originated desire to praise God.^° 

The relationship between the two sections ; 

In order to identify the main thrust of the psalm, it is necessary 
to establish the relationship between the two sections. Auffret indi- 
cates some of these relationships as follows. In section one, we find 
the request for purification (vv 3-4, 8-9) but in section two a plea for 
restoration (vv 12-13): here the confession of sin (vv 5-6a, cf. v 7), 
there the witness to convert sinners (v 15); here a just sentence (v 6b), 
there a just salvation (v 16, cf. v 14a). ^' Thus, Auffret concludes that 
the first section is only a prelude to the second. ^^ 

But the relation needs to be more clearly specified. V 12, with the 
request for restoration, is intimately bound up with the first section. 
The latter's emphasis on man's sinfulness from conception contrasted 
with God's desire for truth in the inner parts not only implies but 
certainly demands a request for inner restoration. In a sense, v 12 is 
the natural outgrowth of vv 3-9. However, on the basis of that resto- 
ration, the psalmist can vow to testify of God's grace. He knows that 
if God restores, he will be able to praise him. The relationship between 
V 12 and v 17, then, seems to one of condition and consequence, v 12 
being the condition of v 17. This understanding is supported by the '3 
which begins in v 18, because it shows that the request for being made 
to praise God has its origin in one's spiritual condition. From a 
human standpoint one's spiritual condition is the logical condition for 
being able to praise God, while from the divine standpoint, this repre- 
sents the means whereby God generates praise unto himself. Either 
way, the emphasis is on the praise generated for God. 

In summary, the relationship between the two sections is that the 
request for pardon is the condition of (or possibly otherwise subordi- 
nate to) the request to be caused to praise God. Therefore, the theme 
of the outline for the division encompassing vv 3-19 is this idea: 
"You cause me to declare your praise." 

A note about vv 20-21 

A few brief comments about vv 20-21 need to be made. Several 
commentators, especially those who date this psalm around the period 
of the exile, regard these last verses as later, liturgical additions. The 
reason seems obvious, because the statement that God delights in 

'Ibid., 144. 
'Ibid., 145. 


Thematic Outline of Psalm 51 * 

Psalm 51:1-21 (Psalm) [If you cleanse me from my sin (for against you only I have 
sinned)], [then by creating in me a clean heart] you cause me to declare your praise. 

Psalm Constituent 1-2 (Paragraph) (Role: setting of 3-19) At the time when Nathan 
convicted David of his sin with Bathsheba. 

Psalm Constituent 3-19 (Division) (Role: Body of the Psalm) [If you cleanse me 
from my sin (for against you only I have sinned)], [then by creating in me a clean 
heart] you cause me to declare your praise. 

Division Constituent 3-9, 11 (Section) (Role: condition of 10, 12-19) Cleanse 
me from my sin [for against you only I have sinned]. 

Section Constituent 3-4 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: Head of 3-9, 1 1) Cleanse 
me from my sin. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 3 (Paragraph) (Role: topic orienter of 
3-4) God, be gracious to me in accordance with your lovingkindness. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 4 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 3-4) Cleanse 
me from my sin. 

Section Constituent 5-7 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: reason for 3-4, 8-9) 
Against God only I have sinned. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 5 (Paragraph) (Role: specific of 6a) My 
sin is always on my mind. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 6a (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 5-7) 
Against God only I have sinned. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 6b (Paragraph) (Role: equivalent of 6a) 
Your judgment is just. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 7 (Paragraph) (Role: amplification of 5) I 
was sinful already at my very origin. 

Section Constituent 8-9 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: amplification of 3-4) 
Forgive me that I may be clean. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 8 (Paragraph) (Role: grounds of 9) You 
want truth in my innermost being. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 9 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 8-9) For- 
give me that I may be clean. 

Section Constituent 1 1 (Paragraph) (Role: equivalent of 3-4) Forgive me all 
my sin. 

Division Constituent 10, 12-19 (Section) (Roles: consequence of 3-9, 11; Head 
of the Body) [By creating in me a clean heart] cause me to declare your praise. 

Section Constituent 10 (Paragraph) (Role: preview of 12-19) Cause me to 

*See Callow, Second Thessalonians, p. 7. His helpful "Chart of Relations Involving 
Communication Units" explains some of the terminology in this outline. 

barentsen: psalms si and 32 257 

Section Constituent 12-13 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: means of 14-17) 
Create in me a clean heart. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 12 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 12-13) 
Create in me a clean heart. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 13 (Paragraph) (Role: contrast of 12) Do 
not separate me from your presence. 

Section Constituent 14-17 (Paragraph Cluster) (Roles: result of 12-13; head 
of 10, 12-19) Cause me to declare your praise. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 14 (Paragraph) (Role: condition of 15, 
16b) Restore to me the joy of your salvation. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 15 (Paragraph) (Role: equivalent of 16b) 
1 will teach sinners your ways. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 16a (Paragraph) (Role: manner of 12) 
Deliver me from guilt. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 16b (Paragraph) (Role: consequence of 
14) I will praise your righteousness. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 17 (Paragraph) (Roles: summary of 14-16; 
head of 14-17) Cause me to declare your praise. 

Section Constituent 18-19 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: amplification of 12- 
13) You desire a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 18 (Paragraph) (Role: contrast of 19) You 
do not delight in sacrifice. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 19 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 18-19) 
You desire a broken heart and a contrite spirit. 

Psalm Constituent 20-21 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: closing of 3-19) If you do 
good to Zion according to your grace, then you will delight in righteous sacrifices. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 20 (Paragraph) (Role: condition of 21) Do good 
to Zion according to your grace. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 21 (Paragraph) (Role: consequence of 20) Delight 
in righteous sacrifices. 

sacrifices seems to contradict directly v 18, which says that God does 
not delight in sacrifice. ^^ 

However, v 21 adds an important qualifier to "sacrifice," namely 
"righteous," implying that these are not empty rituals; they are per- 
formed with the right spiritual attitude. Note also that v 20 is an 
appeal to God's sovereign grace to show favor to his covenant people. 
The movement of thought is remarkably similar to the body of the 
psalm. There we saw an appeal to God's sovereign grace for pardon, 

"DalgUsh, Psalm Fifty-One, 77, 194. 


on which basis human praise could be offered to God. In vv 20-21 we 
see the same appeal on the basis of which (note the twice repeated TX 
in V 21) God may delight in the praises of men offered in the form of 

The main difference between vv 20-21 and the body of Psalm 51 
is that they are spoken within a national context rather than a per- 
sonal one. The relationship can be best understood in light of the 
ancient Near Eastern concept of kingship.^'* The king, as a divinely 
appointed representative, was responsible not only for his own con- 
duct and well-being, but also for that of the whole nation. The con- 
cepts of covenant and solidarity play an important role. Thus, after 
having settled his personal relationship with God, it would be natural 
for the king to turn his concerns to his nation. In fact, when this 
concept is properly applied, it will be seen that the presence of vv 23- 
21 may point to Davidic (because kingly) authorship, rather than late, 
possibly exilic editing of the psalm: priests or scribes concerned with 
liturgy would have little interest in adding a postscript with royal 

Theological Analysis: The Contents of the Psalm 

One of the major ideas in the psalm is the dependence of man on 
God who forgives and restores. This stands in stark contrast to the 
greatness of sin (vv 5-7). 

The greatness of sin 

The movement of thought in vv 5-7 begins with the observation 
that man has sinned and that he is aware of it. Then the sin is put in 
proper perspective: it is primarily directed against God. Turning his 
attention to God, the writer states that God's judgment is just, while 
in contrast his own origins are in sin. Considering the contribution of 
each paragraph to the development of the thought is helpful. 

V 5: The verse opens with the acknowledgment that David knew 
his sin; thus, he exposes his guilty conscience. ^^ It follows that this 
was a living awareness of sin.^^ The second half of the verse makes 
this clear: "before me" here has the connotation of "opposite me, 
against me," that is, confrontation.^^ The mention of "always" empha- 
sizes that sin is not temporary, but continual.^* Thus, David charac- 
terizes himself as a person who sins and, by extension, all of humanity 
could be characterized that way. 

^■"See J. H. Eaton, Kingship and the Psalms (SBT 2nd Series, 32; Naperville, IL: 
Allenson, n.d.) esp. 72, 187. 

"Dalglish, Psalm Fifty- One, 104. 
^^Delitzsch, Psalms, 2. 135. 
"Snaith, The Seven Psalms, 52. 
^^Dalglish, Psalm Fifty- One, 105. 

barentsen: psalms 5i and 32 259 

V 6a: The prominence of "against you and you only" highlights 
the fact that all sin is directed against God. This may seem somewhat 
strange since David's sin with Bathsheba also involved the death of 
her husband Uriah; nevertheless, this statement is the "only adequate 
doctrine of the final bearing of sin."^^ All sin is against God. 

V 6b: The word ]}JDb, which usually means "in order that"^" 
indicating aim or purpose is a problem here. Dalglish adds that the 
concern here is not that David must acknowledge his sin so that God 
might remain righteous, as in a theodicy; instead he sees the phrase as 
elliptical, implying that when God judges, then he will be just. But the 
argument in either case is that sin, after it is identified as directed 
against God, now is contrasted with the nature of God. 

V 7: This reflection upon God's nature turns the psalmist to con- 
sider his own nature; so he states that he was even conceived in sin. 
J. K. Zink enumerates five different interpretations of this verse, but 
at least "the corporate solidarity and its propensity toward sin is 
clearly recognized."^' The sinful origin of humanity after Adam is 
in view as the psalmist's statements transcend his personal realm. 
Somehow, "natural generation inevitably produces corrupt human 
nature. "^^ God's just nature and man's sinful origin are set in con- 
trast. We have moved from man's and God's reaction to sin in vv 5 
and 6a to the underlying reason: God hates sin because he is just, and 
man sins because he is a sinner. 

Thus, the key to an acknowledgment of sin is first, the admission 
that sin is directed primarily against God, and second, that this enmity 
has its foundation in the opposite natures of God and man, which are 
just and sinful respectively. 

Human impotence 

In the first section of the psalm the need for forgiveness is shown 
by the exhibition of the greatness of man's sin. Thus, man is depen- 
dent on God for forgiveness as well as the subsequent restoration of 
relationships. This restoration deals first with the heart, both with 
regard to cleansing it (vv 12-13) and with regard to directing it toward 
God's desires, and second, with the praise that is due to God; having 
cleansed the heart, the soul can offer up praise to God. 

Vv 3-4, 8-9: The plea for forgiveness is based both on the recog- 
nition of man's sin (vv 5-7) and on the fact that God desires truth in 

^'Harrison, "A Study of Psalm 51," 32. 

'"BDB, 775. 

"j. K. Zink, "Uncleanness and Sin: A Study of Job XIV and Psalm LI 7," VT 17 

John Murray, TTie Imputation of Adam's Sin (Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian 
and Reformed, 1959)91. 


man (v 8). The plea for forgiveness is so urgent that it is repeated in 
V 1 1. The terminology used, such as cleansing with hyssop (v 9), has 
ritual overtones, but the main thrust of these verses is ethical. The key 
observation for our purposes is that the writer constantly appeals to 
God's grace. In v 3, the preposition "3 is twice repeated in chiastic 
structure so that the focus is on divine grace." And it is according to 
his grace that forgiveness can be expected or requested. In other 
words, although the need for forgiveness is based on man's sinfulness, 
the granting of forgiveness is dependent on God's grace, not on how 
much man needs it. Thus God's sovereignty is emphasized in the way 
he grants forgiveness. 

Vv 12-13, 18-19: The plea for a clean heart, contrasted with a 
request not to be separated from God, again shows the need for 
action on God's part. The heart is one's innermost being. The verb 
X12, of which only God is agent, ^"^ shows the necessity of divine 
action. Says Calvin: 

He does not merely assert that his heart and spirit were weak, requiring 
divine assistance, but that they must remain destitute of all purity and 
rectitude till these be communicated from above. ^' 

It may appear that v 19, with its emphasis on a broken and contrite 
heart, shows the possibility for human initiative. But note that 'con- 
trite' is translated from the same root as 'broken' in v 10; the concept 
is one of being bruised or crushed. ^^ Thus, both 1DU^3 ('broken') and 
nD13 ('contrite') describe one suffering an action rather than acting; 
both are semantically passive concepts. Thus, being broken and being 
bruised is not a result of human initiative, but depends on divine 
action; it is God's task. David leaves no doubt that only by divine 
initiative can we possess a clean spirit. 

Vv 14-17: As argued earlier, the request for a clean spirit forms 
the basis for the request to have one's mouth opened to praise God. 
One must recognize that the restoration of the soul is not the final 
goal. It is absolutely necessary, but the final goal of restoration is to 
restore to God the praise that is his due. Thus, a request for forgive- 
ness and restoration must, according to biblical example, be followed 
by a request to have a tongue, lips, and mouth (vv 1 6b- 17) to praise 
God. It is not human initiative that accomplishes God's praise; it is 
God who must open our mouths if we are to praise him. 

"Dalglish, Psalm Fifty-One, 84. 

'■* Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, rev. by V. D. Doerksen 
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979) 1 16, citing Davis, Paradise to Prison, 40-41. 

"John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, trans. J. Anderson (reprint; 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1949) 2. 299. 

'^Harrison, "A Study of Psalm 51," 36. 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 261 

In summary, the whole process of dealing with sin, from forgive- 
ness through restoration to praise to God, is ultimately and utterly 
dependent on God. Man is completely impotent, or at least passive, 
in making any step toward restoring the relationship with God. 

Effects of Sin on Man 

The three different words for sin vv 3-4, ytt'D, pv, and SUn, usu- 
ally have different nuances, but here in parallel they indicate the total- 
ity of sin in which man is involved. Similarly, the three different 
words used for forgiveness indicate the complete forgiveness requested. 
Both observations show that sin is not a superficial characteristic of 
man but rather goes to the core. 

It is worth repeating that sin soils one's conscience (v 5) and that 
it stains man from his very beginnings (v 7). Although v 10 does not 
necessarily imply physical effects of sin,^^ it clearly shows that one's 
emotional state suffers from it.^* Even so, the psychomatic effects of 
sin should not be ruled out. V 13 highlights how sin may affect one's 
relationship with God. Though never losing one's salvation,^' the fel- 
lowship could be severed. God restores to us not only the cleanness of 
heart but also the praises that are his due. This implies that sin has 
dishonored God in taking away praise from him."**^ In fact, David's sin 
with Bathsheba had caused others to blaspheme God (2 Sam 12:14). 
The sacrifices had apparently degenerated into empty ritual, which is 
why God would not be pleased with them. Still, they soothed many a 
conscience, thinking that this deed corrected one's standing before 

psalm 32 

As with Psalm 51, varying purposes have been proposed for 
Psalm 32. Drijvers holds that it is a psalm of "thanksgiving for a cure 
from illness.""" McConnell believes that David's purpose was "to 
demonstrate the importance of confession/ forgiveness in one's rela- 
tionship with Yahweh."''^ Craigie suggests various translations of the 
term '7"'DU'?3: "to teach; meditation; psalm of understanding; or skillful 

"Cf. Dalglish, Psalm Fifty- One, 145. 

'*See Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th ed. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 
1939, reprinted 1981)485. 

"Harrison, "A Study of Psalm 51," 35. 


""Pius Drijvers, The Psalms: Their Structure and Meaning (New York: Herder and 
Herder, 1965) 146. 

"^Oren G. McConnell, "An Exegetical Study of Psalm 32," unpublished Th. M. 
thesis (Dallas Theological Seminary, 1974) 17. 


psalm. "''^ He recognizes the presence of elements of thanksgiving as 
well as wisdom motifs, so he identifies it as a psalm of thanksgiving 
with literary adaptations to wisdom/'* Yet almost all suggestions lack 
enough information to be sure of the purpose of the psalm. Let us 
consider first the divisions of the psalm and then its unity. 

Structural Analysis: Divisions of the Psalm 

Psalm 32, like Psalm 51, divides into two sections. Notice the 
differences in terminology: vv 1-5 contain words like VU'D, "[117, KUn, 
and concepts like groaning, confessions, and misery; vv 6-11, on the 
other hand, deal with concepts like teaching, counseling, trust, rejoic- 
ing, and praying. 

In addition, v 6 starts with the strong logical construct nXT'Vi', 
"on this account. ""^^ This certainly indicates major transition between 
two divisions, vv 1-5 and vv 6-1 1. 

However, v 7 seems to upset this pattern. V 6 starts out clearly 
with the idea of exhortation in mind, but v 7 returns to the sphere of 
a relationship with God. In vv 1-5, the dialogue is carried on between 
the psalmist and God, and the same is true for v 7. But in vv 6-11, 
with the exception of v 7, the dialogue is not with God but rather 
with the reader. Thus it appears that v 7 belongs with vv 1-5 instead 
of with vv 6-1 1. Now we have the following divisions: vv 1-5, 7 and 
vv 6, 8-11, a situation similar to Psalm 51. Vv 6 and 7 may thus be 
transitional, although the presence of the strong conjunction in v 6 
suggests that the verses may be more than just a transition. 

The unity of the divisions can also be demonstrated internally by 
the literary feature of inclusion. Both vv 1 and 5 contain yu^D, KUn, 
py, and nOD."^ Vv 6 and 10 both contain the words ion and O'Dl."^ 

V 7 is a transitional verse and contains the word DDD, which recurs in 

V 10, although the general form of v 7 corresponds closer to vv 1-5. 

Within the first division the movement of thought is as follows. 
Vv 1-2 represent an exclamation of blessing in the third person singu- 
lar. This marks them off from vv 3f. which are written in the first 
person singular. In addition, vv 3 and 4 start with the conjunction '3, 
which indicates a transition. The ""D of v 3 may be interpreted as a 
time indicator, "when,"''^ rather than an expression of cause or result. 
But the recurrence of the conjunction at the beginning of v 4 shows 

"'p. C. Craigie, Psalm 1-50 (Word Biblical Commentary, 19; Waco, TX: Word, 
1983) 269. 

''Ibid., 265. 
"'BDB, 262. 

Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 285. 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 263 

that the relationship also has logical components. Thus, vv 1-2 appear 
to stand at the head of the first division. 

The rest of the division, vv 3-5, 7, can be subdivided into two 
sections. This is mainly done on the semantic level. There is a clear 
contrast between vv 3-4 and vv 5 and 7. Vv 3-4 mention concepts 
like silence, judgment, and misery, while vv 5 and 7 contain the 
opposite concepts, those of confession, forgiveness, and deliverance. 
Thus, the first division is made up of three sections: vv 1-2, 3-4, and 
5 and 7. 

The second division is structured differently. V 6 mentions the 
theme of deliverance and includes an exhortation to pray. Vv 8-11 
also contain an exhortation to turn to God and mention the benefits 
thereof. V 6, then, is the introduction to vv 8-1 1. 

V 8 starts with the declaration that David will teach sinners 
about the mercies of God. The rest of this section appears to be the 
content of the teaching. V 9 metaphorically warns those who do not 
turn to God; v 10 uses the format of a proverb to state the basic 
principle on which the exhortations are based; and v 1 1 repeats the 
principles of v 9 in a positive manner. Thus, this second division is 
structured around David's desire to teach others about God's for- 

Psalm 32, then, much like Psalm 51, turns out to be highly struc- 
tured. However, there is a marked difference in the prominence of the 
contrast in Psalm 32, namely between vv 3-4 and 5 and 7, and be- 
tween vv 9 and 11. Such prominent contrasts are absent from Psalm 
51 as a major feature of the structure (which is not to say that the 
psalm contains no contrasts). This analysis is presented in Chart II. 

Reconstruction of the Meaning: The Unity of the Psalm 

The theme or thesis statement of the first division is found in 
vv 1-2. As previously mentioned, vv 3ff. are linked with the first two 
verses by a logical connective, which at its first occurrence takes on a 
temporal meaning. The reasoning seems to be that vv 3ff. explain the 
grounds of the statement of vv 1-2. Given the contrast between vv 3-4 
and vv 5 and 7, this suggests that the grounds are considered in a 
twofold manner, negatively and positively. Hence, the theme for this 
division reads "happy is the man whose sin is forgiven." 

The theme of the second division is found in v 1 1. As stated, v 6 
embodies the introduction to this division, while v 8 gives the division 
its major structural feature. But though v 8 structures the division, it 
is not the key statement; the content of what David desires to teach 
takes precedence over the desire. 

Vv 9 and 1 1 stand in contrast to each other, with v 10 supplying 
the basis for the exhortation of vv 9 and 11. V 10 almost functions 



Constituent Organization 

Psalm 32:1-11 


PC 1-5,7 


PC 6, 8-11 







1 II 












1 P 1 








SC sc 

5a 5b 

1 P II II 


7 8 





1 P 


1 P II P 1 

1 P 

9 10 

1 P II P 1 


1 P 1 

DC = Division Constituent 

P = Paragraph 

PC = Psalm Constituent 

PCC = Paragraph Cluster Constituent 

PCI = Paragraph Cluster 

S = Section 

SC = Section Constituent 

Chart II: Overview of Psalm 32 

like a summary and for that reason may appear to be the most prom- 
inent. But in this case, v 10 functions more like a transition from the 
negative exhortation (warning) to the positive exhortation. Since the 
declared intent of these verses is to teach and since the teaching 
focuses on action more than knowledge ("the way which you should 
go," V 8), the final positive exhortation is best identified as the thesis 
statement of this division. Hence, the phrasing of the theme of the 
division is "rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones," with its contrast 
added in parentheses. 

The general flow of thought in the psalm moves from the origi- 
nal statement "happy is the man whose sin is forgiven" to the exhor- 
tation for the righteous to rejoice in the Lord. It is remarkable that 
the man who needs forgiveness in vv 1-2 is identified with the righ- 
teous and upright one in v 11. How does this transition take place? 

Two factors determine the relationship between the divisions. 
The most obvious one is the strong conjunction nXT"'?!? beginning v 6. 
This indicates that a logical conclusion is being drawn from what 
precedes. The relationship is one of grounds on which a conclusion is 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 265 

based. The conclusion is then the prominent part and functions as the 
head of the body. 

Second, an exhortation usually has more force than the expe- 
rience on which the exhortation is based. Now, vv 3-5, 7 mainly 
relate David's experience before and after his confession, so this is 
not the primary focus of the psalm. Rather, the declaration of the 
intent to teach dominates the psalm and focuses the attention on v 11. 
This line of evidence also supports the prominence of the second 

Thus, the first and second divisions are related to each other as 
grounds and conclusion, experience and exhortation. The experience 
is only mentioned as support for the exhortation, so that the goal of 
the psalm is the teaching of sinners about the way they should go — to 
rejoice in the Lord. 

Theological Analysis: The Contents of the Psalm 

The main thrust of the psalm consists of its teaching on the need 
for confession. But two other areas are significant elements. 

The need for confession 

The psalm describes life as a path to walk, as the way in which 
we should go (v 8). In this path there are two contrasting options. 
The use of contrast shows the pedagogical genius of the psalmist, 
because the options are either to remain in one's sin, separate from 
God, or to confess one's sin and have fellowship with God. The 
choice is either/ or; no other option is given. The purpose is, of course, 
"to point out the path of true happiness to sinners."''^ 

Option 1 is to remain silent about one's sin and not to acknowl- 
edge it to God. This results in a "roaring" all day long (v 3). This is 
soon recognized as judgment from God, and again the sorrow is 
described, but this time more vividly. The vitality of the sinner is 
compared to the earth, cracking under the heat of the summer. Thus, 
Option 1 is clearly understood as undesirable because it incurs God's 

But in the exhortation, this is still elaborated. Here the sinner is 
compared with the stubborn horse and mule. The sinner's silence is 
not due to ignorance, but to rebellion. On the other hand, these 
beasts are also animals which have no understanding. So although 
the sinner may be in rebellion against God, he also has to cope with 
unclear thinking (cf. Eph 4:17-19). However, the horse and the mule 

'Craigie, Psalms 1-50, 268. 


Thematic Outline of Psalm 32 

Psalm 32:1-1 1 (Psalm) [Happy is the man whose sin is forgiven. Therefore,] [do not be 
stubborn, but] rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones. 

Psalm Constituent 1-5, 7 (Division) (Role: grounds of 6, 8-11) Happy is the man 
whose sin is forgiven. 

Division Constituent 1-2 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 1-5, 7) Happy is the man 
whose sin is forgiven. 

Division Constituent 3-4 (Section) (Role: grounds [neg.] for 1-2) I was silent so 
[because of judgment] I was in misery. 

Section Constituent 3 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of 3-4) 1 was silent, so I was 
in misery. 

Section Constituent 4 (Paragraph) (Role: grounds of 3) [Because of my 
silence] God judged me, so that I was in misery. 

Division Constituent 5, 7 (Section) (Role: grounds [pos.] for 1-2) God forgave 
my sins [because of confession]. [As a result, God is my Deliverer.] 

Section Constituent 5a (Paragraph) (Role: grounds of 5b) 1 confessed my 

Section Constituent 5b (Paragraph) (Roles: Head of 5, 7; condition for 7) 
God forgave my sins [because of confession]. 

Section Constituent 7 (Paragraph) (Role: consequence of 5b) [As a conse- 
quence] God is my Deliverer. 

Psalm Constituent 6, 8-1 1 (Paragraph) (Role: Head of the Body) [Do not be stub- 
born, but] rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones. 

Division Constituent 6 (Paragraph) (Role: introduction to 8-11) Pray to God 
and be safe. 

Division Constituent 8-1 1 (Section) (Role: Head of 6, 8-11) [Do not be stub- 
born, but] rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones. 

Section Constituent 8 (Paragraph) (Role: orienter to 9-11) 1 will teach you 
what to do. 

Section Constituent 9-1 1 (Paragraph Cluster) (Role: Head of 8-1 1) [Do not 
be stubborn but] rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 9 (Paragraph) (Role: Head, [neg.] of 
9-11) Do not be stubborn. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 10 (Paragraph) (Role: summary of 9. 11) 
He who trusts God receives his lovingkindness. 

Paragraph Cluster Constituent 11 (Paragraph) (Role: Headj [pos.] of 
9-11) Rejoice in the Lord you righteous ones. 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 267 

can be brought near by bit and bridle — if this is the right interpreta- 
tion of V 9c. ^° Likewise, God can use sorrows, which are the lot of the 
wicked (v 10), to draw the sinner to himself. 

Option 2 is to acknowledge one's sin and confess it before God. 
The concept is repeated three times in v 5. This shows that it is not a 
formal rehearsal of a list of sins, but a thorough exposure of one's sin 
before God. God responds with forgiveness, and thus deliverance is 
experienced (v 7). 

In the exhortation, this too is expanded. Here, confession is 
identified with trust in the Lord, highlighting the importance of a 
right heart attitude in confession. As a result, the sinner is now called 
a righteous and upright person who may delight in the mercies of the 
Lord (v 11). Option 2 is the desirable one because it is the proper 
response to God's lOn. 

Universality of sin 

In presenting the options, the psalmist does not leave the reader 
with any choice but to be silent or to confess. The fact that each 
reader has sin about which to be silent or vocal is assumed. All need 

Just as in Psalm 51, the three most frequent words for sin here 
are, VU^D, ]^V and, xun (vv 1-2; 5). In vv 1-2 these words indicate that 
man's life is involved in all kinds of sin, and that sin stains all of his 
life. In V 5 these words show that all kinds of sin are subject to God's 
forgiveness; there is no sin which cannot be forgiven. Sin may be 
universal, but there is always hope in God's all comprehensive for- 

Human responsibility 

The exhortation in this psalm is a plea for human action: one 
must turn to God. Thus, man's responsibility is emphasized, in con- 
trast to Psalm 51, where God's sovereign grace was emphasized. But 
God's sovereignty is not left out of the picture here. The fact that a 
forgiven person can be counted blessed (vv 1-2) implies that God has 
been at work in that person; judgment in v 5 testifies to God's sover- 
eignty. Similarly, the following concepts indicate aspects of God's 
sovereign grace: God is a hiding place (v 7); he surrounds the psalmist 
with songs of deliverance (v 7); he surrounds those who trust him 
with lovingkindness (v 10); trusting in the Lord implies that he is sov- 
ereign (v 10); and God sovereignly uses misery to lead people to him- 
self (vv 3a, 4a, 9). So human responsibility is set in the context of 

'"ibid., 40. 


divine sovereign grace. Therefore, this responsibiUty is not autono- 
mous, but must be exercised in dependence upon God, submitting to 
him and acknowledging that his judgments are just. This is a respon- 
sibility of faith, not of works. 


Four propositions summarize the main theological points drawn 
from these two psalms: (1) Man is utterly, always, from conception, 
and in every aspect of his relationship to God, sinful. (2) Man is 
wholly dependent on God for forgiveness and restoration before he 
can enjoy an undisturbed relationship with God. (3) Man's responsi- 
bility is humbly and in faith to confess his sins to God and to ack- 
nowledge that his judgments are just. (4) Man, once forgiven and 
restored, is to be happy about what the Lord has done for him, and 
to extol his virtues. 

Appendix A 


Human thought is structured; the human mind cannot function 
in utter chaos or at random — although admittedly it is not always 
flawlessly organized. It follows that human writings will usually evi- 
dence a certain structure, which will vary according to the language 
and culture of the writer. The exegete should consider such structure 
in his interpretation of the Bible. 

Part of this task can be accomplished by grammatical and syn- 
tactical observation. But since writings consist of more than a ran- 
dom series of grammatical or syntactical phrases, there is a wider 
field of analysis. This wider field may be called "paragraph" or "sec- 
tion," depending on the size, but if a whole document is analyzed it is 
convenient to speak about a discourse (a more technical title for a 
larger unit of communication, not for the common concept of dia- 
logue). Analyzing the structure of such a discourse may be called 
"structural analysis." Thus structural analysis accomplishes on a 
broader level what grammatical and syntactical analysis accomplishes 
on a more detailed level. 

The concerns of this method are to reconstruct the flow of the 
argument by an objective methodology which recognizes structural 
devices such as chiasm, repetition of key terms, and important struc- 
tural markers. Unfortunately, the importance of discourse structure 

barentsen: psalms 51 and 32 269 

for the understanding of the Bible has not been as fully understood 
and used by exegetes as it might be. Thus, help on the structure of a 
passage is rarely available in the standard exegetical and critical com- 
mentaries/* though the value of the method is being increasingly 

This method can be very useful. It gives the exegete a more 
objective tool to help him understand the flow of thought in a par- 
ticular document. Such an objective tool in my judgment, is sorely 
needed since the task of contextual analysis is often approached rather 
intuitively. And even though our intuitions may sometimes be right, a 
more objective method is needed to bridge the linguistic, cultural, and 
religious chasm between the ancient world and our own, and to make 
certain that our reconstruction of the meaning is extracted from the 
text, not imposed upon it. 

"Callow, Second Thessalonians, 15. 

Grace Theological Journal 5.2 (1984) 271-288 

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus 
Weston W. Fields 

Understanding the Difficult Words of Jesus, by David Bivin and Roy Bliz- 
zard. Arcadia, CA: Makor Publishing, 1983. Pp. 172. Paper. No price. 

It was during my sabbatical year in Jerusalem that I first became ac- 
quainted with David Bivin, Robert Lindsey, and other students and colleagues 
of David Flusser of the Hebrew University. Thus it was with considerable 
anticipation that I began reading this book by David Bivin and Roy Blizzard, 
which popularizes some of the results of a whole generation of research into 
the linguistic and literary background of the synoptic Gospels by Prof. Flusser, 
Dr. Lindsey, and their associates in Jerusalem. The ideas of the book are 
generally good, and I can be enthusiastic about most of them. The informal 
style and largely undocumented format in which these ideas are presented, 
however, may for many detract from their ready acceptance. 

The Milieu and Burden of the Book 

It is important to understand that this book was born out of a combina- 
tion of circumstances which cannot be found anywhere except in Israel and 
which could not have been found even in Israel only a few years ago. These 
factors include a rapprochement between Jewish and Christian scholars in a 
completely Jewish University, freedom of study unhampered by religious 
hierarchical control, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and a growing 
appreciation for their bearing on NT study, and most importantly, the fact 
that gospel research in Jerusalem is carried on in spoken and written Hebrew 
very similar in many respects to the Hebrew idiom (Mishnaic Hebrew)' of 

'See, for example. Jack Fellman, "The Linguistic Status of Mishnaic Hebrew," 
JNSL 5 (1977) 21-22; Chaim Rabin, "The Historical Background of Qumran Hebrew," 
Scripta Hierosolymitana, vol. 4: Aspects of the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. by Chaim Rabin 
and Yigael Yadin (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1958) 144-61; and W. Chomsky, "What Was 
the Jewish Vernacular During the Second Commonwealth?" JQR 42 (1951-52) 193- 
212; Jonas C. Greenfield, "The Languages of Palestine, 200 b.c.e.-200 c.e." in Jewish 
Languages, Theme and Variations, ed. by Herbert H. Paper (Cambridge, MA: Associa- 
tion for Jewish Studies, 1978) 143-54; Herbert C. Youtie, "Response," in Jewish Lan- 
guages, Theme and Variations, 155-57; Joshua Blau, A Grammar of Biblical Hebrew 
(Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1976), 1; E. Y. Kutscher, "Hebrew Language: The 
Dead Sea Scrolls," Encyclopedia Judaica 16: cols. 1583-90; Idem, "Hebrew Language: 
Mishnaic Hebrew," Encyclopedia Judaica 16: cols. 1590-1607. 


Jesus' day. All of this, moreover, is accomplished in the midst of growing 
recognition among NT scholars that the key to understanding a number of 
sayings in the gospels has been lost, unless one finds it in Jewish and Hebrew 

The more technical background of Understanding the Difficult Words of 
Jesus is to be found in scholarly literature authored by Flusser, Safrai, and 
others at Hebrew University,^ but especially important as a prelude or com- 
panion to this book are two works by Robert L. Lindsey, pastor of Baptist 
House in Jerusalem for the past forty years. Accordingly, discussion of Lind- 
sey 's work is integrated here with the suggestions of Bivin and Blizzard. The 
first of Lindsey's works is entitled A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of 
Mark (with a foreword by Flusser),' and the second a pamphlet entitled 
simply. The Gospels. 

The burden of these books may be summarized in a few propositions, 
which not only go counter in some respects to the prevailing wisdom of NT 
scholarship outside of Israel, but also represent something perhaps more 
revolutionary than might first appear. These propositions are: 

— Hebrew was the primary spoken and written medium of the majority 

of the Jews in Israel during the time of Jesus 
— Jesus therefore did most if not all of his teaching in Hebrew 

^Many of these articles are available in English. A sampling of Professor Flusser's 
writings follows (some of them are English summaries of Hebrew articles): Jesus (New 
York: Herder and Herder, 1969); "Jesus," Encyclopedia Judaica 10: cols. 10-17; "Mar- 
tyrdom in Second Temple Judaism and in Early Christianity," Immanuel 1 (1972) 
37-38; "The Liberation of Jerusalem — A Prophecy in the New Testament," Immanuel 
1 (1972) 35-36; "The Last Supper and the Essenes," Immanuel 2 (1973) 23-27; "Jewish 
Roots of the Liturgical Trishagion," Immanuel 3 (1973-74) 37-43; "Did You Ever See 
a Lion Working as a Porter?" Immanuel 3 (1973/74) 61-64; "Hebrew Improperia," 
Immanuel 4 (1974) 51-54; "Hillel's Self- Awareness and Jesus," Immanuel 4 (1974) 
31-36; "Two Anti- Jewish Montages in Matthew," Immanuel 5 (1975) 37-45; "Theses 
on the Emergence of Christianity from Judaism," Immanuel 5 (1975) 74-84; "The 
Crucified One and the Jews," Immanuel 1 (1977) 25-37; "Do You Prefer New Wine?" 
Immanuel 9 (1979) 26-31; "The Hubris of the Antichrist in a Fragment from Qumran," 
Immanuel 10 (1980) 31-37; "At the Right Hand of the Power," Immanuel 14 (1982) 
42-46; "Foreword" in Robert Lisle Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of 
Mark (Jerusalem: Dugith, 1973) 1-8. Flusser and Safrai together: "The Slave of Two 
Masters," Immanuel 6 (1976) 30-33; "Jerusalem in the Literature of the Second Temple 
Period," Immanuel 6 (1976) 43-45; "Some Notes on the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12; 
Luke 6:20-26)," Immanuel 8 (1978) 37-47. "Who Sanctified the Beloved in the Womb," 
Immanuel 11 (1980) 46-55; "The Essene Doctrine of Hypostatis and Rabbi Meir," 
Immanuel 14 (1982) 47-57. Safrai alone: "The Synagogues South of Mt. Judah," 
Immanuel 3 (1973-1974) 44-50; "Pilgrimage to Jerusalem at the Time of the Second 
Temple," Immanuel 5 (1975) 51-62. 

'Robert Lisle Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark (Jerusalem: 
Dugith, 1973). 

■"Robert Lisle Lindsey, 77?^ Gospels (Jerusalem: Dugith, 1972). Also important are 
his articles "A Modified Two- Document Theory of the Synoptic Dependence and 
Interdependence," NovT 6 (1963) 239-63; and "Did Jesus Say Verily or Amen?" 
Christian News from Israel 24 (1973). 

fields: difficult words of jesus 273 

— the original accounts of Jesus' life were composed in Hebrew (as one 
might conclude anyway from early church history)^ 

— the Greek gospels which have come down to us represent a third or 
fourth stage in the written" transmission of accounts of the life of 

— Luke was the first gospel written, not Mark' 

— the key to understanding many of the difficult or even apparently 
unintelligible passages in the gospels is to be found not primarily in a 
better understanding of Greek, but in retroversion to and translation 
of the Hebrew behind the Greek (made possible by the often trans- 
parently literalistic translation methods of the Greek translators). 

Although many of the same ideas have been proposed for some time on 
the basis of Aramaic NT originals,* the insertion of Hebrew into the picture is 
becoming more and more accepted, especially among speakers of Modern 
Hebrew, perhaps because a conversational knowledge of Hebrew makes it 

'Among early Christian writers who speak on the subject there is unanimous 
agreement that Matthew wrote his gospel in Hebrew. The testimonies include Papias 
(Fragment 6); Irenaeus {Against Heresies 3.1); Origen (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History 
6:25); Eusebius {Ecclesiastical History 3:24); and Jerome (Lives of Illustrious Men 3). 

*Lindsey, The Gospels, 4; A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, xix-xx. 

^This is developed much more at length by Lindsey on the basis of the order of the 
stories or units in the Synoptics. There are 77 units found in all three of the gospels. 60 
of these are in the same order in all three gospels. Mark contains 1 unit unknown to 
Matthew and Luke; Matthew contains 27 units unknown to Mark and Luke; Luke 
contains 46 units unknown to Mark and Matthew. These "extra" units occur, usually 
in groups, in between the 60 units which the Synoptics share in common. Most 
remarkable is the fact that Matthew and Luke contain 36 units which are unknown in 
Mark, "yet only in one of these units do Matthew and Luke agree as to where to place 
them among the 60-unit outline they share with Mark" (The Gospels, 6). Lindsey 
continues: "When we put these and many other facts together we see (1) that it is 
improbable that either Matthew or Luke saw the writing of the other and (2) that 
Mark's Gospel somehow stands between Matthew and Luke causing much of the 
agreement of story-order and wording we see in the Synoptic Gospels. We also see that 
whatever be the order of our Gospel dependence it is probable that each had at least 
one source unknown to us" (Ibid., 6). Lindsey suggests that it is the vocabulary of 
Mark that is the key to priority. The unique story units show that Mark used either 
Matthew or Luke. The book which shows uniquely Markan vocabulary was probably 
dependent upon Mark and the one which does not contain Mark's unique vocabulary 
probably preceded Mark. It is Matthew that carries over many of Mark's unique 
expressions, while they are usually missing from Luke. Hence, the order of composi- 
tion seems to be Luke, Mark, Matthew (Ibid., 6-7). The numbers in the statistics and 
quotations above have been slightly corrected to coincide with those in A Hebrew 
Translation of the Gospel of Mark, pp. xi-xiii. 

Cf. Gustaf Dalman, The Words of Jesus Considered in the Light of Post- Biblical 
Jewish Writings and the Aramaic Language, trans, by D. M. Kay (Edinburgh: T. & T. 
Clark, 1902); Matthew Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (3rd ed.; 
Oxford: Clarendon, 1967); and Joseph A. Fitzmyer, Essays on the Semitic Background 
of the New Testament (London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1971); and Idem, "The Contribu- 
tion of Qumran Aramaic to the Study of the New Testament," NTS 20 (1974) 382-407. 


easier to see the Hebrew syntax behind a document. Some of the other ideas 
are old ones now revived, and some of the propositions, especially those of 
Lindsey are quite new. At first glance, some evangelicals will undoubtedly be 
inclined to say that such an approach represents something dangerous for or 
incongruous with certain modern conceptions of inspiration and formulations 
of inerrancy, especially when taken together with the inferences which are 
commonly drawn out of them by American Christians. But such fears would 
be unfounded, and objections based on such misgivings should be held in 
check, until it becomes clear whether the problem is with the theory of 
Hebrew backgrounds for the Synoptics (to which one might easily add the 
first half of Acts and the book of Hebrews, although Bivin and Blizzard do 
not), or with the theories of composition and authorship and notions of 
literary convention that are sometimes attached to accepted notions of the 
inspiration of these ancient documents of the Church. 

The Language of Jesus 

Bivin and Blizzard first take up the question of the language of Jesus. 
This question is not settled as easily as one might expect from reading the 
unfortunate translation of 'EPpavq and 'EPpaiaxi as "Aramaic" in the NIV 
(John 5:2; 19:13, 17, 20; 20:16; Acts 21:40; 22:2; 26:14). One would have 
expected a little more reticence in changing the text on the part of these 
particular translators. In their defense, however, it must be said that they are 
following in part the suggestion of the Greek lexicon available at that time,^ 
but the more recent lexicon '° which was published the year after the complete 
NIV, adds that "Grintz, JBL 79, '60, 32-47 holds that some form of Hebrew 
was commonly spoken." Had either Gingrich and Danker or the translators 
of the NIV been aware of the large amount of literature published between 
1960 and 1978 which supports Grintz's contention, they undoubtedly would 
have taken more seriously the NT's statement that these words were Hebrew}^ 
It is a little unfair, for example, that the A'^/f^ takes "Rabboni" in John 20:16 
as "Aramaic" when the text says that it is Hebrew, and it is in fact equally as 
good Hebrew as Aramaic.'^ Even if it were Aramaic, it undoubtedly could 
have been described as Hebrew as legitimately as "Abba" and "Imma" can be 

'William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek- English Lexicon of the New 
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (A translation and adaptation of 
Walter Bauer's Griechisch- Deutsches Worterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testa- 
ments und der iibrigen urchristhchen Literature, fourth revised and augmented edition, 
1952; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1957) 212. 

'"William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek- EngUsh Lexicon of the New 
Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Second edition revised and augmented 
by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walter Bauer's fifth edition, 
1958; Chicago: University of Chicago, 1979) 213. 

See nn. 1, 2, and 3 of this article for a listing of some of this literature. 

'^M. Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, The Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi. 
and the Midrashic Literature, (reprint; Brooklyn: P. Shalom, 1967) 1440. Josephus 
seems to use "language of the fathers" J. W. 5.2) and "Hebrew" (/ W. 6.2.1) to refer to 
Hebrew and not Aramaic as the spoken language of the people during the siege of 

fields: difficult words of jesus 275 

today, though in fact these last two may also be described as "Aramaic loan 
words." NIV reverts to "Hebrew" for EPpaiati in Rev 9:1 1 and 16:16, where 
there is no choice but to understand the words "Abaddon" (a synonym for 
hell in Rabbinic literature)'^ and "Armageddon" as Hebrew. Somewhat less 
defensible is the NIV's insertion of the Aramaic words "E>.a)i, EXcoi" in 
Matthew's account of the crucifixion (27:46), with little important textual 
support.''' These translations of the NIV shov/ the bias which Bivin and Bliz- 
zard oppose. 

Their first chapter reminds the reader that 78% of the biblical text as we 
have it is in Hebrew (most of the OT). If one grants to Bivin and Blizzard for 
the moment their assertion about Hebrew originals for the gospels and adds 
to the OT the highly Hebraic portions of the NT (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and 
Acts 1:1-15:35, which together constitute 40% of the NT), the percentage of 
the biblical material with a Hebrew background rises to 87% (subtracting the 
1% that is in Aramaic in Daniel and Ezra). When one further adds the 176 
quotations from the OT in John and from Acts 15:36 to the end of the NT, 
this percentage rises to over 90%. To this Bivin and Blizzard might have 
added the entire book of Hebrews, which early Christian writers who speak 
on the subject agree was written by Paul in Hebrew and translated into Greek 
either by Luke or Clement of Rome.'' This would bring the percentage of NT 
books with a Hebrew background even closer to 100%.'* All of this leads 

"Ibid., 3. 

'^The textual support in favor of the Aramaic phrase is: K B 33 cop^"'"' eth, but as 
Metzger points cut, this was undoubtedly an assimilation to the Aramaic reading in 
Mark 15:34. The manuscripts are more divided on the spelling in Greek of the trans- 
literated Hebrew naV (why?) as well as 'jnpDU? (forsaken), with Codex Bezae charac- 
teristically giving a completely Hebrew reading of the quotation from Ps 22:1, !^a(p6avei, 
representing the Hebrew ■'3031^. Thus the NIV strikes out on its own here, rejecting the 
reading of the Byz family, most other manuscripts, and the UBS text as well (Bruce M. 
Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United 
Bible Societies, 1971] 70, 119-20). 

"Eusebius speaks of this tradition several times, indicating his preference for 
Clement of Rome as the translator on the basis of literary similarity with 1 Clement, 
but also recording that there was a strong tradition in favor of Luke. Both Clement of 
Alexandria and Origen concur with this tradition that the Greek Hebrews is a transla- 
tion (Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3:37; 6:14; 6:25). 

'*To this many would add the Gospel of John. Cf. C. F. Burney, The Aramaic 
Origin of the Fourth Gospel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1922) and TTte Poetry of Our Lord 
(Oxford: Clarendon, 1925). What is proposed here for Aramaic might even more 
cogently be proposed for Hebrew. In addition to this, even W. F. Howard (James 
Hope Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. II: Accidence and Word 
Formation, by W. F. Howard [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1920] 484) says that "the 
solution of the tangled problem of the language of the Apocalypse is said to be this: 
(a) The author writes in Greek, thinks in Hebrew; (b) he has taken over some Greek 
sources already translated from the Hebrew; (c) he has himself translated and adapted 
some Hebrew sources." On the basis of "the instances of mistranslation corrected by 
retroversion" Howard leans toward the latter two suggestions. However, it appears 
that, when new advances in understanding the Hebrew of the period as well as early 
historical references about the composition of the Apocalypse are taken into account, 
the first of these suggested solutions is nearer the mark. The very Hebraic style of 
Revelation is most transparent. 


rather inescapably to the conclusion that Hebrew is as important for the 
study of the NT as it is for the study of the OT (though certainly not to the 
exclusion of other languages and cultures which were influential in the period 
of the Second Temple). 

It is interesting that the authors connect the theories of Markan priority 
and Aramaic backgrounds as well as the idea that the Greek Gospels repre- 
sent "late, faulty transmission of oral reports recorded by the Greek speaking 
Church far removed from the unsophisticated Judean and Galilean scene" 
(p. 26) with "liberal" scholarship. It might be more to the point to say that 
the first two are almost universally assumed by NT scholarship of every 
brand, while at the least the oral aspect is tacitly assumed by many, both 
"liberal" and "conservative" alike. Bivin and Blizzard imply (though the point 
is not made as forcefully as it could be) that the gospels we have rest on 
written records, and that these records were made in the land of Jesus in the 
language of Jesus by people surrounded by the culture and religion of Jesus 
very shortly after the life of Jesus. This, in their opinion, makes the study of 
Hellenism and things Hellenistic (not to speak of Roman language, religion, 
and culture) very secondary indeed for the understanding of the gospels.'^ Of 
course, it must first be established that Hebrew was the primary spoken 
medium of Jesus and his followers. Certainly Aramaic was used, but not as 
much as it was four or five centuries earlier by the returning captives from 
Aramaic-speaking Babylon. Aramaic was the language of the upper class and 
was well-known and used among scholars for certain purposes. But most of 
the literary indications extant today about the language of the common people 
of Jesus' day point toward Hebrew as the primary language in an undoubtedly 
bi-, tri-, or quadrilingual society (and no one living in multilingual Israel 
today can doubt the possibility and feasibility of such a thing in Jesus' day). 
The linguistic situation during that time is probably best described by the 
term "diglossia." This term is used to describe the well-known habit of multi- 
lingual speakers of speaking their various languages in different religious, 
social, economic, or political situations, which may vary as well with the 
particular geographical setting in which an utterance is made. The indications 
in favor of Hebrew are: (1) the languages used in the inscriptions on the cross 
(Greek, Latin, and Hebrew); (2) the large number of Hebrew words surviving 
in the NT (many more by actual count than Aramaic words); (3) the now 
better-understood fact that Hebrew works from the time (just as modern 
Israeli Hebrew scholarly works) contain Aramaisms, but that these do not 
point to Aramaic originals; and (4) most especially the astounding fact that 
much of the day-to-day Second Temple literature discovered at Qumran and 

The debate about the "Hellenistic" or "Non- Hellenistic" background of the 
writers of the NT (including Paul) continues. Cf. e.g., on the Hellenistic side, Samuel 
Sandmel, TJie Genius of Paul (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979), and on the Jewish side, 
W. D. Davies, Paul and Rabbinic Judaism (4th ed.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980). For 
a most stimulating recent approach to the religion of Paul, see E. P. Sanders, Paul and 
Palestinian Judaism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977) and Idem, Paul, the Law and the 
Jewish People (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983). 

fields: difficult words of jesus 277 

Massada is in Hebrew. All of this, and especially the last point, is so over- 
whelming that even Matthew Black has had to concede that "if this is a cor- 
rect estimate of the Qumran evidence [Wilcox's contention that Hebrew was 
a spoken Palestinian language in NT times], where Hebrew vastly predomi- 
nates over Aramaic, then it may be held to confirm the view identified with 
the name of Professor Segal that Hebrew was actually a spoken vernacular in 
Judaea in the time of Christ."'* 

One of the most striking indications of Jesus' use of Hebrew comes from 
his words on the cross, H>,i r|>.i Xe^ia aaPaxOavi (Matt 27:46; see n. 14 above 
on the text). Although Mark 15:34 records them in Aramaic, EXwi EXwi 
X,e^a oaPaxGavi, quoting the Targum to Psalm 22, the context seems to indi- 
cate that Jesus must have uttered them in Hebrew, because Eli (HXi, 'V^?) was 
a shortened form of Eliyahu (HXiac,, in»V>?), "Elijah," only in Hebrew, and 
the bystanders thought Jesus was calling for Elijah. But 'nVx, the Aramaic 
(see Dan 6:23), could not have been mistaken for "Eliahu." Only Hebrew ''bH 
can account for the misunderstanding. Bivin and Blizzard could have pointed 
out the obvious psychological fact that the utterance of a man in pain and in 
the throes of death, without any doubt whatsoever would have been made in 
the language he was most accustomed to speaking. ZaPaxOavi may have been 
as much Mishnaic-like Hebrew as Aramaic, though it was certainly Aramaic 
in the first instance and would have come over into Hebrew only as a 
loanword — a distinct possibility in Jesus' time, considering the kind of litera- 
ture in which it occurs." It is used enough now in Modern Hebrew to be 
considered genuine Hebrew by Even-Shoshan; it passed from loanword status 
to Hebrew status somewhere along the way.^*^ Of course the Biblical Hebrew 
word in Psalm 22:1 is 'jriaTy. The word 7\Jpb, transliterated variously by Greek 

"M. Black, An Aramaic Approach to the Gospels and Acts (3rd ed.; Oxford: 
Clarendon, 1967) 47. Birkeland gives a convenient summary of the history of Aramaic 
and suggests a view of the relative importance of Aramaic and Hebrew as spoken 
languages in the time of Jesus similar to the one suggested above in this article (Harris 
Birkeland, The Language of Jesus [Oslo: I Kommisjon Hos Jacob Dybwad, 1954] 
1-40). Some other important sources for the consideration of Aramaic vis-a-vis Hebrew 
are: B. Jongeling, C. J. Labuschagne, and A. S. Van der Woude, Aramaic Texts from 
Qumran Semitic Study Series, new series edited by J. H. Hospers, T. Jansma, and 
G. F. Pijper, vol. 1/4; Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1976); Jonas C. Greenfield, "Aramaic and Its 
Dialects," in Jewish Languages, ed. by Herbert H. Paper, pp. 29-43; and E. Y. 
Kutscher, "Aramaic," Encyclopedia Judaica 3: cols. 259-87. Especially important is the 
evidence in favor of Mishnaic Hebrew as the spoken medium during the Second 
Temple period adduced by M. H. Segal, A Grammar of Mishnaic Hebrew (Oxford: 
Clarendon, 1927) 1-20. 

"Jastrow, Dictionary, 1516-17. 

^"H^Hy-px Dmax, nayn pVon (nSO-nnp: D'-VinT) 1323. James Barr's discussion 
of "Aramaisms" and Aramaic loanwords in Hebrew still remains one of the best on the 
subject. See his Comparative Philology and the Text of the Old Testament (Oxford: 
Clarendon, 1968) 121-24. For an explanation of and a listing of other Modern Hebrew 
borrowings from Aramaic, see Jonas C. Greenfield, "Aramaic and Its Dialects," in 
Jewish Languages, Theme and Variations ed. by Herbert H. Paper (Cambridge, MA: 
Association for Jewish Studies, 1978) 42. 


manuscripts in the Matthew passage as ^.i^a, >.e^ia, and >^a)ia, and in the 
Mark passage by the additional X,ei|ia.^' The difference in pronunciation 
between the Aramaic and Hebrew would have been difficult to distinguish 
orally, so the language of the utterance probably hinges on the shortened 
form of Elijah. 

Other convincing proofs for Hebrew as the spoken vernacular follow one 
upon another. Consider the account in the Talmud (Nedarim 66b)^^ about the 
difficulties an Aramaic-speaking Jew from Babylon had in communicating 
with his Jerusalemite wife, who spoke Hebrew, or the findings of Flusser that 
of the hundreds of Semitic idioms in the Synoptic Gospels most can be 
explained on the basis of Hebrew only, while there "are no Semitisms which 
could only be Aramaic without also being good Hebrew" (p. 40). Or consider 
the opinion of Moshe Bar-Asher, the prominent Aramaic scholar at Hebrew 
University, that the Synoptics go back to an original Hebrew and not Ara- 
maic. Joining in this train, according to Bivin and Blizzard, are Pinchas 
Lapide of Bar-Ilan University (Tel-Aviv), William Sanford LaSor (Fuller 
Seminary), Frank Cross (Harvard University), and J. T. Milik (pp. 40-43). 

But for those familiar with the writings of the early Fathers this does not 
come as a total surprise. The testimony to an original Hebrew Gospel by 
Matthew is found from about a.d. 165 in Papias, through Irenaeus, Origen, 
Eusebius, Epiphanius, and most strikingly, Jerome (ca. 400). During his 
thirty-one years of translating in Bethlehem he wrote that 

Matthew, also called Levi, apostle and aforetimes publican, composed a gospel 
of Christ at first published in Judea in Hebrew for the sake of those of the 
circumcision who believed, but this was afterwards translated into Greek though 
by what author is uncertain. The Hebrew itself has been preserved until the 
present day in the library at Caesarea which Pamphilus so diligently gathered. I 
have also had the opportunity of having the volume described to me by the 
Nazarenes of Beroea, a city of Syria, who use it. In this it is to be noted that 
wherever the Evangelist, whether on his own account or in the person of our 
Lord the Saviour quotes the testimony of the Old Testament he does not follow 
the authority of the translators of the Septuagint but the Hebrew. Wherefore 
these two forms exist, 'Out of Egypt have I called my son,' and 'for he shall be 
called a Nazarene.'"^' 

One of the common arguments for an Aramaic vernacular at the time of 
Jesus is the existence of targumim and the discovery of some of these Ara- 
maic paraphrases at Qumran. But the targumim undoubtedly originated in a 
linguistic situation which preceded Jesus' time by at least a century and a half 
or more and which changed by the last days of the Second Temple. This can 
be seen by careful analysis of the writings of the Tannaim and Amoraim. 
Furthermore, the Aramaic targumim are outnumbered at Qumran by Greek 
translations, and few seriously contend that Greek was the primary spoken 

Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 70, 119-20. 

Babylonian Talmud (London: Soncino, 1936), Nedarim 66b, pp. 214-15. 

See n. 5 above for the other references. To these should be added Epiphanius, 
Refutation of All Heresies, 30.3.7. The complete quotation from Jerome can be found 
in Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, 3, in vol. 3 of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, 
second series, trans, by E. C. Richardson, ed. by P. Schaff and H. Wace, p. 362. 

fields: difficult words of jesus 279 

language of first century Israel. It is significant that the Pesharim (commen- 
taries) found at Qumran are all in Hebrew. It is possible that it was the 
religious revival that occurred under Judas Maccabaeus after his cleansing of 
the Temple in December, 164 B.C. (for which Hannukkah is a commemora- 
tion), which was the impetus for the resurgence of Hebrew as the primary 
vernacular of Israel's Jews by the time of Jesus (p. 55). 

Coins, inscriptions, ^'' Rabbinic literature such as the Mishnah, and espe- 
cially Rabbinic parables (there are about five thousand of these which sur- 
vived in Hebrew and only two in Aramaic) all go to bolster the case for 
Hebrew as the vernacular of Second Temple Israel and thus of the documents 
behind the gospels. 

But perhaps most telling are the gospels themselves, and in particular the 
Gospel of Luke, the Greek translation of which evidences transparently 
literalistic translation from a Hebrew original more often (and perhaps most 
surprisingly) than do either Mark or Matthew. These semitisms, most notice- 
able in syntax and idiomatic expressions (as would be the case with any 
literalistic translation) are not evenly spread throughout the book. They occur 
in blocks, most notably in direct statements attributed to Jesus or to his 
Jewish opponents. Some of these Hebraisms are so common and obvious 
that one scarcely needs to mention them, but for those unfamiliar with them, 
perhaps it is valuable to note a few. The constant Kai feyevexo + ev + article + 
infinitive + subject of infinitive in the accusative + Kai + main verb obviously 
reflects ""n'! + preposition (usually 3 or 3j + infinitive construct + ^ + main 
verb.^' Thus, the repetitious use of 1 in narrative is reproduced as one of the 
outstanding characteristics of the gospels, a feature also apparent in literalistic 
English translations such as KJV ox NASB, which retain the Semitic syntax, 
even twice or three times removed. 

It might be helpful to give an example of the ease with which many 
portions of Luke are returned to idiomatic Hebrew, often with few changes 
even in word order. One that Lindsey uses, Luke 22:67-70, is particularly 
excellent since it contains a common Rabbinic introduction to a disputation 
as well as allusions to two OT passages (and possibly a veiled reference to a 
third passage): 

ei aO ei 6 xpiaxoq, eirtov i^iiiv. elnev 5e Mb IDK .n'tyan nnx DX 

auTOiq- fedv uiiiv eiTTO), ou liii 7riaTEijar|Te- 03^ IDK DS" ,Dn"'Vx "IDS'T 

Edv 5e fepconiaco, ou yiT\ dnoKpiQfJTe. .Ijyn x"? Vxtt'X DXT irpxn s"? 

ano xov vCv 5^ eoxai 6 uio^ xoO dvGpmnou aiyv tt^JK T3 HM' nnyDT 

Ka0T^jievo(; ^K Se^imv Tfjq 5uvd|a£(0(; ToO GeoC. . . . .rriiajri pp'"? 

zlnav 5e navxeq- av ovv el 6 vioq xoC 0eoO. ]3 KiDN nriK" ,dV3 lipx"! 

6 8^ npoq avxovq, e(pr\- ■o\xelc, Myzxz oti feycb DFIX" ,Dri''Vx "lON'l" ,D''nVxn 

ei^i. ".Kin "-JS '3 DnolN 

Francis E. Peters has cautioned against giving too much weight to coins for 
deciding the languages of Palestine during this period (Francis E. Peters, "Response," 
in Jewish Languages, Theme and Variations, 161). 

*As recognized by Nigel Turner, who calls this construction a "Semitism" (James 
Hope Moulton, A Grammar of New Testament Greek, vol. 3: Syntax, by Nigel Turner 
[Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1963] 144-46). See also his long listing of other semitisms, 
pp. 398-99. , 


Lindsey's explanation of this passage is a good example of the kind of 
work that is being done by those studying the gospels from the standpoint of 
their Hebrew and Jewish background: 

As in all of Luke it is not Jesus who uses the word Messiah about himself; 
this word is employed by the chief priests who are trying to get Jesus to "level" 
with them and confess the thing his actions and speech have long hinted at but 
not made explicit. Faced with hostile interrogators who are nevertheless con- 
scious of their duty to get the facts Jesus does "level" with them by pointedly 
telling them that he cannot expect them to believe the truth if he says it and that 
he cannot even "ask" them anything; this last is a reference to the accepted 
rabbinic procedure in debate: the one asked a question is allowed to ask a ques- 
tion in return. But rather than leave things at an impasse Jesus then makes a 
statement which can only leave his hearers following the patterns of rabbinic 
exegesis to try to make out what he means. "The Son of Man" is a Messianic 
title they know full well from Daniel 7.13,14 and the "seated at the right hand" 
they easily identify as a reference to Messianic Psalm 1 10. Jesus' expression "the 
Power" is another accommodation to the rabbinic habit of replacing an ordi- 
nary name for the deity by an evasive synonym. But of even more interest is the 
seeming addition in the priestly expression "the Son of God." Here, as Professor 
Flusser once pointed out to me, the explanation seems to be in the way the 
rabbis connected Psalm 1 10 with Psalm 2 by reading verse 3 of the former as 
^■"niV' bv (cf. the LXX) which is the same verb found in Psalm 2:7. They answer 
therefore: "You are then the Son of God!" and of course mean, "You are, then, 
the Messiah!" Jesus answers, "It is you who are saying that I am he!"^* 

Bivin and Blizzard point out such common Hebrew idioms in the gospels 
as "he lifted up his eyes and saw," "Heaven," in "Kingdom of Heaven" as a 
substitute term for God for fear of violation of the third commandment,^^ 
and the idiom "to come/be near," as the equivalent of "to be present" (i.e., 
"the Kingdom of God is here," not "near"). Bivin and Blizzard's equation of 
the word "judgment" with "salvation" instead of with "destruction" may not 
be as well chosen, even though this may occasionally be the way to translate 
the word in the OT. 

Even Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker recognize a number of these idioms, 
while, perhaps, not fully appreciating their significance since the bulk of their 
work (and Bauer's) was completed before the important implications of the 
Qumran discoveries came to be appreciated. Still, they list a number of 
idioms with a Semitic background both in the introduction to the lexicon as 
well as in the text itself.^* They do at least recognize the influence of the LXX 
on NT Greek syntax, and there can be no doubt where the LXX got its 
syntax. Still, one is not quite prepared for the superlative in which they 
express it: "As for the influence of the LXX, every page of this lexicon shows 
that it outweighs all other influences on our literature."^' While this state- 
ment may be hyperbole, these lexicographers are definitely on the mark 

Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, xx-xi. 
"Cf. Bruce D. Chilton, A Galilean Rabbi and His Bible (Wilmington: Michael 
Glazier, 1984) 78. 

BAGD, xix-xxv. 

fields: difficult words of jesus 281 

about one thing: the NT is full of Semitic syntax, vocabulary, idioms, and 
thought patterns. Perhaps in the case of the Synoptics, however, this should 
not be traced so much to the influence of a Hebrew-to-Greek translation of 
the OT, as a Hebrew-to-Greek translation of documents which lie behind 
these gospels. In any case, the point is that the Hebrew influence is there, and 
this fact coupled with other factors already mentioned in this article once 
again points to Hebrew as the linguistic background for the gospels. As for 
the actual listing of the Hebrew expressions and idioms in the gospels, the 
72-page-long list in Moulton-Howard, vol. 2 (where the whole scope of the 
NT is covered) is only a beginning;^" there are many more which are most 
apparent to someone who wears the glasses of Hebrew fluency to see them. 

The Process of Composition 

One of the more controversial parts of the book by Bivin and Blizzard 
will be their discussion of the process of composition of the gospels. Although 
there is very Httle in the canonical writings which explains the actual process 
of writing down the stories, or the mechanics of inspiration, there are ideas 
about composition and inspiration which have come to be almost canonical! 

It is undoubtedly worthwhile to remind ourselves just what is actually 
known. As for the composition of the gospels, only Luke tells us his method: 
he used written sources (Luke 1:1-4). He undoubtedly had oral sources as 
well, but he does not say that he did. Early church historians suggest rather 
often that Paul was an oral source for Luke and that very well may have been 
true to some extent.^' As for the mechanics of inspiration, the Bible gives no 
explanation at all. And the situation is complicated even more by the fact 
that the foundations of currently popular views on inspiration among Ameri- 
can evangelicals, the "autograph," is something neither mentioned in the NT, 
nor in any of the discussions of inspiration and canonicity in the first cen- 
turies of the Church. ^^ This is notable because there is an obvious question 
which arises from the early church accounts that the Greek Gospel of Matthew 
and the Greek book of Hebrews are translations: what is an autograph? Or, 
more to the point, which was the autograph then in the case of these books: 
the Hebrew original or the Greek translation? The same question might arise 
out of Luke's report that he used written sources for his gospel, as well as the 
suggestions of Bivin and Blizzard about the composition of the Synoptics. On 
the one hand both our conceptions of canonicity and the content of the 
Canon are entirely dependent upon the tradition of the Church Fathers." On 

Moulton and Howard, Grammar, vol. 2, 413-85. 

'irenaeus. Against Heresies, 3.1; Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6.24. 
"Liddell and Scott list only Dionysius Halicarnassensis and Plutarch as users of 
the word {LSJ, 279). BAGD does not list the word. It is true, of course, that the 
concept does not depend upon the use of this particular word, but I can find no such 
concept connected with inerrancy during the early centuries of the church. 

The main canon lists are: The Muratorian Canon (ca. 2nd century); Eusebius 
(4th century); Cyril of Jerusalem (a.d. 349); Apostolic Canons (4th century); Codex 
Alexandrinus (4th century); Council of Laodicea (a.d. 363); Council of Carthage 
(a.d. 397); the African Code (a.d. 419); and Jerome (a.d. 420). None except Jerome 


the other hand the Fathers neither raise nor answer the question of "auto- 
graphs," since they were not, apparently, concerned with them or even aware 
of the concept as it is used today, even though they spoke freely about the 
fact that some of the NT books were translations. Thus, an answer to the 
question, "what is an autograph" is not immediately apparent, but it is a 
crucial question for the doctrine of inerrancy, since inerrancy is claimed only 
for "the autographs." Bivin and Blizzard raise the question only by implica- 
tion and thus do not suggest an answer. 

With this background, then, we come to the propositions of Bivin and 
Blizzard about the composition of the Synoptics. They outline four steps in 
the process of the preservation and transmission of the gospel stories. Natur- 
ally, these steps are hypothetical. Of course this must be the case with any 
reconstruction based on a particular theory, such as the currently popular 
theory of Markan priority. Since any theory of composition is based on a 
long series of inferences, no matter what hypothesis one prefers, one is still 
working in the dark. In the end a theory of composition must be judged on 
the basis of how many questions it answers and problems it solves, weighed 
against the questions it does not answer and the problems it does not solve. 
Bivin and Blizzard believe that their alternative to Markan priority answers 
more questions and solves more problems while at the same time leaving 
unsolved and unanswered less than does the theory of Markan priority. 

Step one occurred within five years of the death and resurrection of 
Jesus, when his words were recorded in Hebrew. Bivin and Blizzard estimate 
that this "Life of Jesus" was about 30-35 chapters long. Notice that they 
postulate a very early written account, as opposed to the widely held theory 
that the raw material of the gospels is late and oral. 

Step two according to Bivin and Blizzard involved the translation of the 
Hebrew "Life of Jesus" into Greek in order to supply the demand for it in 
Greek-speaking churches outside of Israel. The translation was, like the trans- 
lation of the LXX, slavishly literal, and "since books translated from Hebrew 
into Greek are much longer in Greek, it was about 50-60 chapters in length" 
(p. 94). 

Step three followed only a few years later when, "probably at Antioch, 
the stories, and frequently elements within the stories, found in this Greek 
translation were separated from one another and then these fragments were 
arranged topically, perhaps to facilitate memorization. (What remained were 
fragments that were often divorced from their original and more meaningful 
contexts)" (pp. 94-95). There are a number of clear instances of "fragmenta- 
tion" in the gospels which Bivin and Blizzard did not point out. An example 
may be seen by comparing Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount" with the 
fragments of it scattered throughout Luke. My own computer-assisted analy- 
sis of the approximately 390 sections (using the divisions of the UBS Greek 
NT), for example, has demonstrated that large sections of the material found 

agrees completely with our canon. Most of these are conveniently gathered and cited in 
their original Greek or Latin (except the Muratorian fragment, which is undoubtedly a 
translation) in B. F. Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the 
New Testament (7th ed.; London: Macmillan, 1896) 530-68. 

fields: difficult words of jesus 283 

in Matthew 5, 6, and 7 in one "sermon" are found in six different places in 
Luke (6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16) in addition to shorter sections found elsewhere. 
Some of this difference in arrangement of material is undoubtedly a reflection 
of Jesus' repetition of his words in slightly different form to different audi- 
ences in different places at different times and in different contexts. But some 
of it might also support the contention of Bivin and Blizzard that a certain 
amount of fragmentation and displacement occurred between the time that 
the stories were originally committed to writing and the time that they were 
arranged in the form in which we have them now.^"* This displacement of 
stories from their contexts may be clearly seen by comparing accounts of the 
same stories in the Synoptics. One example which will clearly illustrate the 
point is the healing story found beginning in Luke 4:40, Mark 1:32, and 
Matthew 8:16. In Luke and Mark the phrase "when it was evening," or "when 
the sun had gone down" makes sense in those two books since the story is set 
in the context of Shabbat (the Sabbath); and of course the Jews had to wait 
until Shabbat was over before they could do any work such as bringing sick 
people to Jesus to be healed. But in Matthew the same story (as well as the 
healing of Peter's mother-in-law) is set in a different context with nothing 
either preceding or following it about Shabbat. Hence in Matthew the phrase 
"when evening came" has been separated from its original context and one 
must go to the parallels in Luke and Mark to recover its full meaning. 

Step four in the composition of our Synoptics according to Bivin and 
Blizzard was the stage at which a fluent Greek author used this topically 
arranged text, reconstructed its fragmented elements and stories to produce a 
gospel with some chronological order (either explicit or implicit), and thus 
created still another document. "This author, even before our Matthew, 
Mark, and Luke, was the first to struggle with a reconstruction of the original 
order of the story units (represented by steps one and two). In the process of 
reconstruction, he improved its (step three's) grammatically poor Greek, as 
well as shortening it considerably" (p. 95). 

According to this theory of the composition of the gospels, Luke wrote 
first and used only the "topical" text (step three) and the "reconstructed text" 
(step four). Mark followed Luke's work (both Luke's Gospel and his Acts, as 
Lindsey points out)" and Matthew used Mark's. Mark and Matthew had 
access to the "topical" text (step three) as well, but none of the synoptic 
writers had access to the original Hebrew "Life of Jesus" (step one) or the 
first Greek translation of that "Life" (step two). Matthew did not use Luke 
directly." Bivin and Blizzard also suggest that Matthew wrote the original 
Hebrew "Life of Jesus" as all of the Church Fathers who speak on the matter 
in the first 400 years of church history contend, but the extant Matthew was 

Cf. Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, xxii-xxvi; Joachim 
Jeremias, The Sermon on the Mount, trans, by Norman Perrin (Philadelphia: Fortress, 
1963) 13-33. 

Lindsey, A Hebrew Translation of the Gospel of Mark, 39. To this Lindsey adds 
Mark's verbal dependence upon James, 1-2 Thessalonians, 1-2 Corinthians, and 
Romans (p. 52). 
'*Ibid., xviii. 


not done by him, and his name came to be associated with it because of its 
evidently Jewish tone and the tradition that Matthew wrote his in Hebrew. 
While it is true that our Gospel of Matthew does not itself say who wrote it, 
and we thus rely entirely on the tradition of Church History for this conclu- 
sion, the tradition itself is so pervasive that there seems to be no good reason 
to deny it. Matthew's Hebrew "Life of Jesus" is connected with the disciple 
by that name as late as Jerome, who, as we noted above, says that a copy of 
it in Hebrew was still in the library in Caesarea in his day. But even Jerome 
admits that no one knows or even suggests who might have translated the 
Hebrew Gospel into Greek. 

In any event the priority of Luke is the heart of the burden of Bivin and 
Blizzard and in this they are merely summarizing decades of work by Lind- 
sey, which Lindsey himself conveniently outlines in a most convincing manner 
in the introduction to his translation of Mark. NT scholars in the West have 
yet seriously to interact with it, perhaps in many cases because they simply do 
not know about it. It is most unfortunate that the book was originally pub- 
lished in Israel, that its title does not indicate the full scope of the important 
material it presents, and it has not been widely advertised. These factors have 
undoubtedly led to its obscurity. 


Some of the scholars in Israel who have spent a lifetime studying the 
Synoptics have themselves attempted to reconstruct some of the fragmented 
stories and teachings by combining elements from the various gospels which 
can be related through key words. Bivin and Blizzard give one example of 
this with a reconstruction of the Mary and Martha story, combining elements 
from Luke 10, Matthew 6 = Luke 12, and Luke 16. Thus, Martha's complaint 
about Mary's neglect of her share of the work precedes Jesus' teachings on 
worry gathered from several places. These are followed by the story of the 
rich man who tore down his barns to build bigger ones. Then the story is 
concluded with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. 

Of all of the innovations in the book, this is the one which may be 
hardest to accept. In fact, the entire chapter would probably have been better 
left out of the book. Such reconstruction, one might argue, may be the next 
logical step after one has recognized that some stories are fragmented. Gospel 
harmonies actually amount to this. But there is still a lingering feeling that 
what we have is what we have, and that we should leave it as it is. Each 
canonical gospel has come down to us in a form which has value and signifi- 
cance just as it is. Each must in the end stand on its own merits. Comparison 
of the Synoptics for the purpose of understanding parallel stories is one thing 
(and must be done at a deeper level than mere lexical similarity); comparison 
of the Synoptics for the purpose of reconstruction is quite another. It is not 
that it is any more theologically dangerous or disrespectful of the gospels 
than, e.g.. Gospel Harmonies or the numbers in the Eusebian and Ammonian 
Canon Tables. It is simply a question of whether extensive reconstruction on 
the basis of a few similar words or thoughts is really convincing or helpful. 

fields: difficult words of jesus 285 

Retroversion and Retranslation 

"Theological error due to mistranslation" takes up the next section of the 
book. These "theological errors" according to Bivin and Blizzard are "paci- 
ficism," "giving without discernment," and the "theology of martyrdom." The 
arguments are made rather convincingly, but they may not convince everyone. 
This section is followed by an appendix in which Bivin discusses individual 
verses and phrases and explains them from their Hebrew/ Jewish background. 
For the less trained reader this section will undoubtedly be the most interest- 
ing. For the trained reader this section is the test of whether the idea of 
Hebrew backgrounds to the gospels is a good solution for difficulties of trans- 
lation and interpretation. If a few of the flaws, such as the use of the King 
James Version instead of the Greek text, can be overlooked, almost anyone 
can find help here with some of the most impenetrable sayings of Jesus. 

The first saying which Bivin discusses is "Blessed are the poor in spirit, 
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Here Bivin points out that this verse 
intends to teach that God's followers are made up of the spiritually "down 
and out," who are humble enough to let God save them. 

Luke 23:31, "For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be 
done in the dry?" is explained against the background of Ezekiel's prophecy 
against Jerusalem and its Temple in Ezek 20:45-21:7. Jesus identifies himself 
with the "Green Tree," a Messianic symbol of the times and the "Dry Tree" 
with the people of Jerusalem who would face a worse fate than Jesus at the 
hands of the Romans. Bivin suggests that "in" should be "against" (no doubt 
going back to an original Hebrew 3). Not only does the verse finally make 
sense, but it shows once again, as Bivin says, that "Jesus seems hardly ever to 
have spoken without somehow or in some way making a messianic claim," even 
though he never comes right out and says "I am the Messiah" in the Synoptics. 

Bivin finds the key to Matt 11:12, "From the days of John the Baptist 
until now, the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it 
by force," by comparing a rabbinic midrash of Mic 2:13, a connection pointed 
out by Flusser. It appears that Jesus is here taking a Messianic interpretation 
from the literature (whether oral or written) of his culture, perhaps altering it 
slightly, and subtly using it to make a messianic claim. 

Bivin next takes up Luke 12:49-50: "I am come to send fire on the earth; 
and what will I, if it be already kindled? But I have a baptism to be baptized 
with; and how am I straitened till it be accomplished." This enigmatic state- 
ment is the occasion for the most lengthy and fascinating explanation that 
Bivin offers. By comparing the verse with Matt 3:1 1 and Isa 66:15-16, and by 
explaining the many Hebraisms latent in the verse, Bivin shows that it is 
better translated, 

I have come to cast fire upon the earth, 

But how could I wish it [the earth] were already burned up? 

I have a baptism to baptize, 

And how distressed I am till it is over! 


In his discussion of Matt 16:19, "Whatsoever you shall bind (or loose) on 
earth shall be bound (or loosed) in heaven," Bivin shows that understanding 
the Hebrew background of the saying would lead to the translation "allow" 
and "disallow" for this very common rabbinic phrase. He also shows how this 
authority was applied at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, at which James 
both "loosed," i.e., allowed the believers not to be circumcised and not to 
keep the whole law, and "bound," i.e., disallowed idolatry, cult prostitutes, 
and eating meat from which the blood had not been removed (Lev 7:26). 

Matt 5:20, "Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of 
the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no case enter into the kingdom of 
heaven," is illuminated by the insight that the Hj?"]? of the Pharisees had been 
reduced to almsgiving, and Jesus was calling for a greater nj?"TX, God's nj?"TS 

Matt 5:17-18, "Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the 
prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily 1 say to you, till 
heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law 
till all be fulfilled," is explained by showing the typical Hebrew rabbinic 
phrases employed in this statement evidently aimed at other rabbis. The 
Hebrew idiom "I have come" obviously means "it is my purpose to," and the 
terms "destroy" and "fulfill" were commonly employed in Jesus' day as tech- 
nical terms in rabbinic argumentation. "When a rabbi felt that his colleague 
had misinterpreted a passage of Scripture, he would say, 'You are destroying 
the Law.' Needless to say, in most cases his colleague strongly disagreed. 
What was 'destroying the Law' for one rabbi, was 'fulfilling the Law' (cor- 
rectly interpreting Scripture) for another" (p. 154). Thus, it is Jesus' method 
of interpretation that is under consideration here. Hence, to paraphrase, he is 
saying "never imagine for a moment that I intend to abrogate the Law by 
misinterpreting it. My intent is not to weaken or negate the Law, but by 
properly interpreting God's Written Word I aim to establish it, that is, make 
it even more lasting. I would never invalidate the Law by effectively removing 
something from it through interpretation. Heaven and earth would sooner 
disappear than something from the Law. Not the smallest letter in the alpha- 
bet, the vod nor even its decorative spur, will ever disappear from the Law" 
(p. 155)." 

Bivin goes on to show that Luke 6:22, "cast your name as evil" is simply 
a literalistic translation of the Hebrew idiom meaning, "to defame (publicly) 
you." Luke 9:29, "the appearance of his face was altered," a phrase appearing 
twice in rabbinic literature, is shown to be a subtle messianic claim. Luke 9:44, 
"lay these sayings in your ears" is a Hebrew expression familiar to any reader 
of Biblical Hebrew. 

One often hears that the expression "he set his face to go" in Luke 9:51 
demonstrates Jesus' resolve to go to Jerusalem, but Bivin correctly points out 
that this expression has nothing to do with resolve, but is only a Hebrew 
idiom which means "turned in the direction of." 

One final example of sayings of Jesus better understood through recog- 
nition of the Hebrew and Jewish background of the gospels is offered. It is 
the saying in Luke 10:5-6: "Whatever house you enter, first say, 'Shalom be 
to this house.' And if a son of shalom is there, your shalom shall rest upon 

fields: difficult words of jesus 287 

him; but if not, it shall return to you." Bivin would paraphrase this, "When 
you are invited into a home, let your first act be to say, "Peace to this 
family!" If the head of the house turns out to be truly friendly and hospitable 
[a 'son of peace *], let the blessing, 'Peace,' you pronounced when you entered 
his house remain upon his family. If he is not friendly, withdraw your bless- 
ing [and move to another house]" (p. 168). Bivin compares Jesus' instruction 
here to similar blessing used by other rabbis: "Shalom to you, shalom to your 
house [i.e., 'family'], and shalom to everything you own" (p. 169). 

With this the book closes, but it does not close the discussion it is likely 
to engender. The core of ideas which the book presents represent an oppor- 
tunity for NT scholars to make a real advance in the understanding of the 
gospels, and the book ought to be taken seriously even though it is in a 
popular style and is defective literarily, typographically, and especially in the 
many assertions which are not supported by sufficient documentation. The 
trained critical reader should not presume that lack of documentation in the 
book means that documentation is not available. One may suppose that some 
of this lack of documentation is a result of the popular style the authors 
chose in order to reach a larger audience. It may also be that after having 
lived and worked among speakers of Hebrew the authors came to assume 
many things which are obvious to someone fluent in Hebrew and very con- 
versant with Jewish culture and history, but not to those who do not have 
such a background. Or they may have simply underestimated the degree to 
which NT studies in Western Europe and America have remained com- 
fortably unaware of the original linguistic and cultural setting of our Synop- 
tic Gospels. It is also possible that they did not fully realize the extent to 
which American conservative Christianity is so much more dependent upon 
the fourteen epistles of Paul, the Gospel of John, and the Apocalypse. The 
Synoptics are largely untouched in American conservative Christianity, except 
for portions which contain the infancy narratives, the narratives of the last 
days of Jesus on earth, and a few scattered eschatological references. In 
contrast to the early Christians whose favorite gospel seems to have been 
Matthew, there is no doubt that American conservatives today prefer John. In 
contrast to early Christians who placed much more emphasis on the teachings 
of Jesus, American conservatives emphasize the epistles of Paul. Without 
making a judgment on the reasons for or the rightness or wrongness of these 
phenomena, it is sufficient in the present case to remark that these facts alone 
portend a resistance to the suggestions of Bivin and Blizzard. The lack of 
familiarity with the Synoptics on the part of a major segment of the Christian 
community in the West will mean that few will even see the significance of 
their suggestions and fewer still will be capable of evaluating them. This is 
not to say that everything that is suggested in the book will be acceptable 
even to those who are capable of such evaluation. Unfortunately, the tone of 
some of the statements in the book places the forum for discussion of the 
merits of its ideas on the very level where no questions of theology or biblical 
scholarship are finally decided: the level of polemics and assertion. I can only 
hope that in a future edition of this book or perhaps in another book the 
authors will offer more documentation from the many sources that are avail- 
able, and that they will present this evidence in a format that will appeal 


more to scholars. But if one can look past this defect to the ideas themselves, 
he will find a tool for the recovery of the background of the Synoptics which 
will make them live, and thus, in my opinion, make them a much more 
powerful corrective for human lives. To be realistic, however, it must be 
admitted that Bivin and Blizzard (as well as Lindsey, Flusser, Safrai, Lapide, 
and others) are going against much of the mainstream of Western Synoptic 
studies; but perhaps the stream needs to ask itself whether- it is really flowing 
in the right direction. 

It remains, finally, for each student of the Synoptics to remind himself, 
as he should do periodically, that it is possible to worry so much about what 
kind of material was used to build the house, who put it there, when it was 
put there, and how and why it was put there, that the beauty of the finished 
house itself is missed; but if the point of the study of gospel composition 
continues to be the better understanding of the difficult words of Jesus and 
the more incisive application of them as a corrective for human behavior, 
then the enterprise remains not only beneficial but obligatory. 


Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old Testament, edited by Donald R. White. 
Third edition. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 388. No price. 

The reissue and updating of Robert Girdlestone's well-known Synonyms 
of the Old Testament forms part of Baker's Bible Language Library, a series 
designed to give readers of the English Bible access to the languages of the 
original text. This third edition of the classic work features the crossrefer- 
encing of each Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek word commented upon by 
Girdlestone with the corresponding entry number of Strong's Exhaustive 
Concordance. Under Baker's scheme, reference to Strong's Exhaustive Con- 
cordance allows the researcher further entrance into selective lexicons of the 
OT and NT, a process by which serious students of the EngUsh Bible can gain 
considerable help in understanding the riches of the Scriptures. 

The several words and quotations in foreign languages in Girdlestone's 
earlier editions have also been translated into English, which presents yet 
another helpful feature for the reader who has, for instance, long been mysti- 
fied by some of Girdlestone's Latin citations. All of this has been packaged in 
an attractive book that includes a most readable typeface, a pleasing format, 
and a few changes that reflect the spelling and pronunciation practices of con- 
temporary (American) EngHsh. 

The editor has also added vowel pointings to the Hebrew words, for- 
merly given only in consonantal form. It is at this point that a word or two of 
criticism seems in order. Having added the vowel points to the Hebrew/ 
Aramaic words, the editor has also provided a full transliteration. Although 
this is a commendable undertaking, the transliteration system is a strange 
one, at best. Not only are marking conventions normally applied only to 
plene forms utilized for simple long vowels, but with the plene forms the 
consonant itself is also included (e.g., ^Elohiym rather than the standard 
^elohim). The result must surely be confusing for English readers who do not 
understand the employment of Hebrew consonants in plene vowel forms. One 
also wonders why a similar system of transliteration was not used for the 
many Greek words in the book. The failure to translate the German words 
richten and urteilen (p. 275n) illustrates inconsistency at another point. 

Another addition to the book is a short glossary of terms important to 
the reading of the book. While any set of such terms is always selective, one 
would hope that the information thus given would be totally accurate (e.g., 
the definitions of "Masoretic text," "Syriac") and free from controversial 
terminology (e.g., "Majority text"). 

The editor also has added a few notes. Such notes ought to be helpful; 
but alas, the note on p. 51 fails to make clear that the Masoretic pointing of 
■•aiN 7\'\7\^,^ reflects simply the avoidance of applying the usual pointing of ""jlN 


to the tetragram, so that rather than reading ^adonay twice — once for the 
tetragram and once for the word itself, the reader now reads the pointing for 
D'hVn with the tetragram and pronounces the whole phrase ^elohim ^adonay. 
Likewise, the note on p. 85 scarcely helps the English reader to appreciate 
current scholarly opinions regarding the relationship between GeXrma and 
PouX.Ti. Again, the note on p. 169 is scarcely a significant one, nor does it set 
forth the full textual picture in Rev 22:14. Surely, if mentioned at all, the 
reading rejected by the editor ought not to be refused via a mere appeal to the 
"Majority text." 

These criticisms aside. Baker is to be commended for publishing this new 
edition of a time-honored, standard work. Its readable, wide-margin format 
will be welcomed by many a pastor and Bible Student. 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist College 

Exodus, by Ronald F. Youngblood. Everyman's Bible Commentary. Chi- 
cago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 144. $4.50. Paper. 

This commentary was refreshing to read. There is every evidence of pro- 
fessional skill in it, and, equally important, an evidence of love and apprecia- 
tion for the book is reflected on every page. This love is illustrated by the 
following quotation: 

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Exodus is the Old Testament's greatest 
book. Not only does it expand on many of the themes and bring to fruition many of 
the promises of Genesis, but it also introduces us to the most profound meanings of the 
Lord's name, to the most basic summary of the Lord's law, to the divine instructions 
that brought into being the Lord's Tabernacle and priesthood, and to the divine initia- 
tive that established the Lord's covenant. ... (p. 7). 

This appreciation of Exodus's theological importance animates the discussion 

That the author is a thoroughgoing conservative is evident in his handling 
of points of scholarly debate. On Mosaic authorship he states: "there is 
conclusive evidence in favor of Mosaic authorship as opposed to the anony- 
mous writers that the documentary hypothesis suggests" (p. 1 1). The astound- 
ing number of Israelites ("two to three million") is to be taken literally 
(pp. 72-73). Concerning the date of the exodus event, the author concludes: 
"no longer are there weighty reasons for preferring the 1295 date (the so- 
called 'Late Date' which is the near unanimous liberal position) over the 1445 
date" (p. 14), and "the available evidence once again seems to be tilting rather 
decisively in favor of the traditional date of the exodus — about 1445" (p. 16). 
While I have always promoted the early date, it is true that such a position is 
not in the majority. In order to solve one of the major problems for the early 
date position (the reference to Ramses in Exod 1:11) Youngblood states that 
"In both Genesis and Exodus, 'Ramses' was not the original name of the site 
but represents a minor editorial change made by scribes long after Moses' 
time to update the references for their readers, just as 'Dan' in Genesis 14:14 


is an editorial update for the name of a city that was called 'Laish' until the 
days of the judges" (pp. 13-14). To be fair, however, it should be added that 
the major difference between the anachronism of Judg 18:29 and Exod 1:11 is 
that in the case of Dan/ Laish the ancient name was "glossed" with the 
updated name, while retaining the former name. There is no versional sup- 
port to reveal such an editorial updating in the case of the name Ramses in 
Exod 1:11. 

There are a number of areas where I have modest disagreements. The 
author writes: 'The establishment of God's chosen people of Israel as a 
'kingdom of priests and a holy nation' (Exod 19:6) is the major theme of the 
book of Exodus." While this is certainly a theological truth, I doubt that it is 
in reaUty the major theme; it is mentioned only once in the entire book. 

On the other hand, in characterizing the contents of the book, the author 
suggests, with many others, that it is the story of redemption. "The story of 
Exodus is the story of how God redeemed His people" (p. 18). It is precisely 
at this point that some serious issues need to be raised. The heart of the 
problem is identified when Youngblood writes, "Old Testament and New Tes- 
tament redemption are not identical, of course" (p. 68). In no other place in 
his discussion is this basic distinction ever integrated into the theological 
meaning of "redemption" in the OT, as opposed to its meaning in the NT. 
Youngblood is an excellent theologian and knows the different meanings for 
the word "redemption" in the testaments: witness the statement, "Old Testa- 
ment redemption at the time of the Exodus was primarily physical and politi- 
cal, whereas New Testament redemption is primarily spiritual" (p. 68). The 
rest of the commentary, however, has failed to make this important distinc- 
tion clear. 

An example demonstrates how a layperson might not come to the proper 
conclusions. "God has called us 'out of darkness into his wonderful light' 
(1 Pet 2:9), just as [emphasis mine] He did the Israelites at the time of the 
Exodus" (p. 92). While it is true that the ancient Israelites came into the 
presence of divine light (the pillar of light), there was no necessary salvation 
in participating in the exodus (contra his statements on p. 100 implying that 
to participate evidenced this faith). Consider also the statement, "Just as the 
redemption [emphasis mine] brought about by the crucifixion and resurrec- 
tion of Jesus Christ constitutes the main theme of the New Testament, so the 
redemption brought about by God's 'mighty acts of judgment' (7:4) at the 
time of the Exodus constitutes the main theme. . . ." (p. 68). Do we really 
want to argue that everyone who participated in the exodus event was eter- 
nally redeemed? 

The answer, of course, is that "redemption" in Exodus does not mean 
"eternal redemption." As Youngblood points out, the basic meaning in the 
book is "ransom." God was creating for himself a nation which he "redeemed" 
from Egypt. The nation is not, however, redeemed in the NT sense of the 
word. In Exodus we have redemption centered around liberation from earthly 
bondage, earthly provision, and an earthly covenant whose blessings and 
curses are, in the main, earthly. It is striking to note that the two words 
normally translated "redeem" are either rare or unattested in the book, ms, 
for example, is used eight times as a verb and once as a noun but never with 


God as the subject, bui is used twice, only once with God as the subject. It is 
not necessary that the author should agree with my statements; rather, he 
should have made clearer to the lay reader the implications of the concept of 
OT "redemption" from Egypt. 

There are several points which need clarification. For example, the so- 
called attestations of the tetragram at Ebla and Mari are hotly debated.* 
Furthermore, I doubt that Pharaoh was hoping for an increase of Hebrew 
wives for his harem when he ordered the killing of the male Hebrew babies 
(p. 28). I would also have preferred a greater emphasis on the plagues as a 
polemic against Egyptian gods and religion. 

These comments do not reflect general dissatisfaction with the work. 
Both the author and the publisher are to be commended for giving to the 
entire Christian community an emminently readable and informative com- 
mentary by one of the better scholars in that community. 

Donald L. Fowler 

*For a convenient example see Giovanni Pettinato, "Ebla and the Bible," BA 43:4 

(1980) 203-5. Most scholars no longer accept readings of the divine name Yahweh at 
Ebla. The common view is that the ya is hypocoristic; see Alfonso Archi, "The Epigra- 
phic Evidence from Ebla and the Old Testament," Bib 60 (1979) 556-66. Some have 
maintained that the reading is a divine name, but argue that the deity Ya is like ^Elo- 
him, generic; see, for example, Mitchell Dahood, "The God Ya at Ebla?" JBL 100 

(1981) 607-8. At the very least we ought to reserve judgment on the issue after the 
manner of K. A. Kitchen {The Bible in ils World: The Bible and Archaeology Today 
[Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1978] 47). 

Psalms 1-50, by Peter C. Craigie. Word Biblical Commentary. Waco: Word, 
1983. Pp. 378. $18.95. 

Those who have been acquainted with Craigie's previous works will wel- 
come this latest volume from the pen of the Dean of the Faculty of Humani- 
ties at the University of Calgary. Craigie's book follows the Word Biblical 
Commentary format, providing each psalm with a helpful bibliography, his 
own translation together with critical notes, a consideration of the literary 
and historical features of the psalm, commentary on the psalm and some 
further words of concluding "explanation." Although Craigie is somewhat 
hampered by the limitations of the series' format, his thorough acquaintance 
with the languages and literatures of the ancient Near East makes the book 
refreshing, with new insights awaiting the careful reader on nearly every page. 

Although scholars will not always be happy with his results (e.g., his 
understanding of Sheol, p. 93), the author's analyses are always stimulating. 
The introductory portion of the book addresses such problems as: the origins 
of psalmody in Israel (it was native to Israel from earliest times), the compila- 
tion of the Psalter (it was accomplished in stages over long periods of time: 
(1) the actual psalm (2) Hnked to other psalms in small collections (3) then 


joined to larger collections drawn from the smaller ones until (4) the final 
"collection of collections" was made [Craigie does see some collecting on the 
basis of the divine names Yahweh — Psalms 1-41, 84-150, and Elohim — 
Psalms 42-83]), an examination of the titles of the Psalms, authorship 
(Heb. b does not necessarily indicate a psalm's author), Hebrew poetry and 
music (much is still to be learned), the Psalms in recent research (an excellent 
survey), and the Psalms and Ugaritic studies (a balanced approach to the 
application of the fruits of Ugaritic research to the Hebrew OT — as demon- 
strated in Craigie 's treatment of such difficult Psalms as 18 and 29). 

The key to Craigie 's approach to the interpretation of the Psalms is seen 
in his discussion of "Theological Perspectives on the Book of Psalms" (pp. 
39-42). For Craigie, the Psalms do not contain God's self-revelation but the 
response to God's previous revelation by the covenant nation in songs and 
prayers. Thus, the Psalter is not direct revelation but recognized as inspired 
or as revelation on the basis of its canonical inclusion. Its theology, then, is 
not formal but popular and intended for all Israel. 

Craigie insists that each psalm must be understood via a layered ap- 
proach: (1) what it meant in its original setting, (2) what it came to mean 
within the biblical tradition (particularly with its incorporation into the Psal- 
ter), and (3) what it came to signify in NT times. It is not surprising, there- 
fore, to learn that Craigie does not consider any psalm to be originally 
messianic, but to have become so with the eschatological hopes of the devel- 
oping biblical tradition, especially in its NT expression. For example, Psalm 2, 
a royal psalm in praise of the Davidic king over Israel, God's earthly king- 
dom, becomes associated with the concepts of a new covenant and kingship 
after Israel's demise as a nation, a process which became readily applicable to 
the NT revelation. Psalm 16 is given a messianic interpretation relating to 
Christ's death and resurrection by Peter and Paul. Psalm 22 becomes the 
messianic psalm par excellence because of Jesus' own appropriation of the 
psalm in his cross experience and due to the Evangelists' interpretive applica- 
tions. Psalm 45 is utilized by the writer of Hebrews to account for the per- 
manent value of the Anointed 's kingdom. Psalm 45 also moves on from an 
historical epithalmium to becoming applicable to the experience of the church, 
the Bride of Christ, in its relation to Christ the King as the people of the 
Kingdom of God. Craigie does not view the "Messianic Psalms" in the tradi- 
tional sense but has wedded his interpretation of these psalms to his convic- 
tion that the theological center of the Scriptures is the Kingdom of God. The 
praise of the anointed king, God's focus of attention in his kingdom on earth, 
gives way in time to a consideration of an eschatological Messiah and his 
everlasting kingdom. 

Craigie has interacted well with a broad spectrum of current literary 
activity on the Psalms and has profited especially from such writers as J. H. 
Eaton and C. S. Lewis. One is surprised to find no mention of the works of 
M. D. Goulder, although his full work on the Psalms of the Sons of Korah 
(JSOT Supplement Series 20) appeared only in 1982. 

Although this work will best be appreciated by serious Bible students, 
the book is not simply scholastic in tone. Readers will welcome his sensitive 


applications to the believer's life and experience. Whatever differences one 
may have at times with Craigie's theological perspective, he will doubtless 
welcome the book as a valuable addition to the literature on the Psalms. 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist College 

First & Second Chronicles, by John Sailhamer. Everyman's Bible Commen- 
tary. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 116. Paper. $4.95. 

John Sailhamer 's First and Second Chronicles takes its place as a wel- 
come addition to Moody's Everyman's Bible Commentary. The difficulty of 
covering so vast an amount of material in a short amount of space is met by 
Sailhamer by continually focusing on the Chronicler's basic purpose of not 
just giving a second view of the history of Israel but of providing an explana- 
tion of the flow of that history. That explanation finds its center in the person 
and kingship of David, whose life and work looks forward to the messianic 
Greater David, Jesus Christ. Sailhamer achieves his objectives well and the 
result is a pleasing one, so that, although the book is aimed at popular con- 
sumption, this little book can be read with profit by all. 

Not surprisingly, amidst the usual matters of introduction, Sailhamer 
devotes a good deal of attention to the message of Chronicles, stressing the 
importance of the Davidic kingship, the court, the temple, and the purpose of 
God to extend his dominion and worship to all the people of God among all 
nations. He then turns his attention to the ancestry of Israel (1 Chr 1:1- 
10:14), suggesting that this section gives primary focus to linking the Davidic 
house with Abraham and Adam, thus binding the primeval promises and 
blessings to David. Viewed thusly, the genealogies take on messianic over- 
tones. There follows a discussion of David's descendants, the line of promise, 
followed by a consideration of the fortunes of Saul. 

Sailhamer now considers the central figure of Chronicles, David himself 
(I Chr 11:1-29:30). 

David became the standard by which all future kings were measured. A good king 
is one who does "according to all that his father David had done" (2 Chron. 29:2). Not 
only was David the standard for all the kings who followed him, but he was also the 
king who most epitomized the promised Messiah (p. 32). 

Sailhamer again underscores the messianic nature of Chronicles, emphasizing 
repeatedly those qualities in David that make him a man after God's own 
choosing and which constitute him a herald of the Greater David to come. 
He devotes three chapters to a consideration of the Davidic promise itself: 
(1) those features that relate to the fulfillment of the promise in David's own 
lifetime (victory over his enemies and the establishment of a place for Israel, 
I Chr 17:1-21:30), (2) those aspects of the promise that post-dated David's 
time but for which David made great preparations (the temple and admini- 
stration of the United Kingdom, 1 Chr 22:1-27:34), (3) those details of the 


promise that David divulged to the leaders of Israel (the choice of Solomon 
to succeed David and preparations for the temple, 1 Chr 28:1-29:25). 

With the death of David (1 Chr 29:26-30), the outworking of the Davidic 
promises in David's descendants is then considered (2 Chronicles). Sailhamer 
devotes a chapter to Solomon and to the special importance of the temple. 

... If a king was to measure up to David, he must have a zeal for the house of 
God (cf. John 2:17). It was part of the chronicler's primary concern to take a historical 
inventory of the descendants of David (p. 68). 

The fortunes of succeeding kings of the Davidic line are traced in three 
phases: (1) Rehoboam to Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 10-20), (2) Jehoram to 
Josiah (2 Chronicles 21-35), and (3) the last kings (2 Chronicles 36). As 
Sailhamer gives attention to the important events of the respective kings, he 
does not lose sight of the Davidic promise and its implications in the light of 
the varying events in the lives of the kings of Judah. He points out particu- 
larly the Chronicler's efforts to prepare his readers for the fact that the fulfill- 
ment of the promise to David lay beyond a temporary setting due to the 
people's spiritual callousness and disobedience. Accordingly, when Jerusalem 
fell and the temple was destroyed (2 Chr 36:1-13), the Chronicler's final 
remarks can be of hope in a rebuilt temple (2 Chr 36:14-21), a hope made 
real in the edict of Cyrus (2 Chr 36:22-23). 

To attempt to retell the Chronicler's account of Israel's life and history 
before God in a mere 116 pages is no easy task. One could take the route of 
giving a synopsis of the myriad of historical details covered in the two books 
of Chronicles or take the approach of examining the book as to its theme and 
development — that is, the reasons that lay behind those events. Sailhamer has 
wisely chosen the latter course. While this reviewer might have wished to 
have seen the complementary themes of Torah and universality treated a bit 
more in Sailhamer's presentation, the dictates of space doubtless have neces- 
sitated the author's concentration on the Chronicler's central thesis. Sail- 
hamer has done his work well; this little book contains a good deal more 
between its covers than one might expect from its small size and popular 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist College 

The Dead Sea Scrolls, edited by Menahem Mansoor. Second edition. Grand 
Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 242. Paper. $8.95. 

Menahem Mansoor's introductory textbook. The Dead Sea Scrolls (first 
published in 1964), has stood the twin tests of critical examination and time. 
For this Baker paperback edition Mansoor has added two chapters, both 
done with his usual careful scholarship blended with a clear presentation. 
Chapter 24 summarizes current scholarly opinion on the finds at Masada, 
including institutional, artifactual, and epigraphical material. Mansoor calls 


particular attention not only the scholarly world's increased knowledge of life 
in Herodian and Roman times but to the discovery of "the only synagogue to 
have survived from the Second Temple period" (p. 210). He also recounts the 
significance of the several biblical and sectarian texts that have been found. 
Of special interest to biblical scholars are details relative to the discovery of 
fragments of Psalms 81-85, Leviticus 8-12, the final two chapters of Deu- 
teronomy, and a decayed scroll of Ezekiel, all dated to the Second Temple 
period and reflecting the Masoretic textual tradition. 

In a final chapter, Mansoor makes an eloquent plea for a scholarly re- 
examination of the controversial Shapira fragments. The fragments contained 
a reading manual compiled from Deuteronomy and interspersed with sections 
from Numbers and Exodus. It was written in paleo-Hebraic script. Rejected 
by the critics of the 19th century as forgeries, Mansoor exams the charges 
against them and pleads for their reevaluation on the basis of similar Qum- 
ranic material. 

Mansoor's two new chapters thus form a valuable addition to a textbook 
whose worth has been well established. 

Richard D. Patterson 
Liberty Baptist College 

The World of the New Testament, ed. by James I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, 
and William White, Jr. Nelson Bible Handbook Series. Nashville: Thomas 
Nelson, 1982. Pp. vi + 216. Paper. $5.95. 

Written to be a companion volume for the study of the NT, this book 
begins with the assumption that the immediate background of NT times is 
essential to grasping clearly the biblical message. Its goal is to show how the 
history of the NT world affected NT events. 

The contents of the book maintain a nice balance between historical 
reporting and synthesis. The chapter on the Greeks traces their history from 
3000 B.C. to Antiochus IV. The chapter on the Romans also begins at 3000 B.C. 
and ends with the fall of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. But the information on the 
Jews in NT times is topical, including mysticism, Hellenism, remnant theol- 
ogy, sects, etc. Especially nice features of the book are its numerous sidebars, 
special topics set off from the flow of the book, placed in blocked -off areas 
on a single page or sometimes spanning two pages. Subjects include Roman 
citizenship, Greek war tactics, the date of Christmas, early Christian hymns, 
etc. Very clear maps, numerous black and white photographs, and an index 
all contribute to make this volume appear to be a large quantity of good 
information at a very good price. 

Though on the surface this book has a lot to offer, it cannot be recom- 
mended to anyone for any purpose. A simple reading of the content reveals 
many half-truths, unacceptable generalizations, and inconsistencies. 

Problems begin with the title page: no author is given, only editors; and 
each of the three editors lists his degrees (a hangover from a former era that 


unfortunately has resurfaced). Who is the author and in what sense are Ten- 
ney. Packer, and White editors? 

Tenney is well known for his writings and his years of teaching at 
Wheaton College. His New Testament Times (1965) demonstrates his exper- 
tise in the field of backgrounds. Packer has taught at Regent College since 
1979 and is widely read, but this is the first his name has been associated with 
backgrounds. White is the least well known of the three; his degrees are from 
Westminster and Dropsie, he taught at the university level for four years, he 
was OT editor with Nelson for three years, and he has worked for the State 
of Pennsylvania since 1982. He has pubHshed a number of non-scholarly 
works as well as a new Theological and Grammatical Phrasebook of the 
Bible (1983). There are no clues to the identity of our ghost writer, except 
that each of the editors has better credentials than is indicated by the inade- 
quacies of this book. The author is clearly uninformed. 

It would require writing a new book or rewriting this one to correct all 
the wrong impressions it gives, for on almost every page is a statement that 
demands clarification. The following are only a few examples: 

Ptolemy II commissioned a Greek translation of the OT (pp. 6, 92). 

Alexander went to the Far East in order to spread the Hellenistic spirit 
(p. 48). 

The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha bear evidence of being more Hel- 
lenistic than Jewish (p. 54). 

Rome granted citizenship to the people she conquered (p. 63, but cf. 
p. 74). 

Judaism was the only religion to survive the strong influence of Greek 
ways (p. 73). 

The trial of Jesus was about a.d. 32 (p. 82, but cf. p. 31). 

Jewish leaders established synagogues in response to the threat of com- 
promise (p. 87). 

The Sadducees adopted the beliefs of the Greek philosopher Epicurus 
(p. 97). 

Historians have discovered the census that Luke described (p. 1 15). 

The disciples must have been teenagers when they responded to Christ's 
call (p. 135). 

In addition to the above, almost no documentation is provided, ancient 
sources are used uncritically, needless repetition abounds, typographical errors 
are common (God did not call Abraham in 200 b.c. [p. 1]), and more than 
one-half of the book is a condensed version of the narrative of the Gospels 
and Acts. 

In place of this problematic book, Harper's World of the New Testament 
by Edwin Yamauchi (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981) is recommended. 

D. Brent Sandy 


Commentary on Galatians, by F. F. Bruce. New International Greek Testa- 
ment Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982. Pp. 305. Cloth. $15.95. 

F. F. Bruce has established himself in the minds of many as the out- 
standing evangelical NT scholar of our generation. This reviewer well remem- 
bers the first time he consulted Bruce 's commentary on the Greek text of Acts 
nearly thirty years ago. A deep respect was born for the care and thorough- 
ness of his research and for his obvious commitment to the divine source of 
Scripture, and Bruce 's NT commentaries have continued to be a rich mine for 
exegetical study. F. F. Bruce is Emeritus Professor at the University of Man- 
chester (England), where until 1978 he was the John Rylands Professor of 
Biblical Criticism and Exegesis. 

Most of the introductory material in this volume appeared earlier as four 
lectures in the Bulletin of the John Rylands University Library at Manchester 
during 1969-73. It is a great convenience to the student to have this material 
in collected form. 

As is well known to those acquainted with Bruce 's writings, he holds to 
the view that the readers were from South Galatia. Those favoring North 
Galatia argue that Galatians belongs to the Romans-Corinthians period of 
Paul's writing; Bruce answers this argument by noting that the whole span of 
Paul's literary effort is only about twelve years — hardly sufficient to con- 
struct a rigid pattern of his thought development (p. 46). 

Bruce has not changed his view that Galatians was most probably writ- 
ten on the eve of the Council of Jerusalem. This would make it the earliest 
extant letter of Paul. Furthermore, Bruce seems to give credence to the idea 
that it could be the earliest extant Christian document (p. 56). He does not 
discuss, however, why it should be viewed as earlier than the Epistle of 

Apparently the author has changed his mind about the identity of the 
"certain people" of 2:12. In his earlier writings on Acts, he seemed to identify 
them with the "some from Judea" in Acts 15:1. Now, however, he connects 
them with the false brethren of 2:4 (p. 130). 

Among the interesting interpretations to be found are the following. He 
acknowledges that Paul did not use exepot; and aXkoq in rigidly distinct ways 
(see 2 Cor 1 1:4 for a good example), but thinks that the conventional distinc- 
tion is warranted in 1:6 (pp. 80-81). He also suggests that all who saw the 
risen Christ were "apostles," including the five hundred (1 Cor 15:6). He uses 
this to account for a wider use of the term "apostle," while at the same time 
recognizing a special commissioning by the risen Lord (pp. 94-95). 

Bruce thinks that Paul's visit to Arabia was not contemplative but evan- 
gelistic. At least he must have done something publicly to attract the atten- 
tion of the Nabateans (p. 96). He does not criticize the various views of the 
430 years (3:17), but merely states the different renderings in the MT and 
LXX texts (p. 173). In commenting on 6:5, "for each person will carry his 
own load," Bruce states: "This is another common maxim, applicable to a 
wide variety of situations. Here the connective ydp suggests that Paul applies 
it to the situation with which v 4 deals: one's responsibility before God. In the 
'day of Christ' Paul would not be asked how his achievement compared with 
Peter's: his Kaux^ma would be the quality of those who had been won for 


Christ through his own ministry (Phil 2:16). At that tribunal 'each of us will 
give an account of himself to God' (Rom 14: 12; of. 2 Cor 5: 10)," (pp. 262-63). 

I cannot agree with every interpretation suggested by the author. On 
1:10, Bruce says that the answer to the question, "Is it human beings or God 
that I am trying to persuade now?" should be "Human beings." He argues 
that persuading God was a concept foreign to Paul's mind (pp. 84-85). Never- 
theless, the next portion of the verse makes such an interpretation most 
unlikely. It seems much better to explain the question as meaning, "Am I 
now trying to get approval of men or God," to which the answer is clearly 

Another instance where Bruce leaves a delicate issue with less specificity 
than could be wished is his dealing with male and female roles in 3:28. He 
states, "If in ordinary life existence in Christ is manifested openly in church 
fellowship, then, if a Gentile may exercise spiritual leadership in church as 
freely as a Jew, or a slave as freely as a citizen, why not a woman as freely as 
a man?" (p. 190). Again, "Paul states the basic principle here; if restrictions 
on it are elsewhere in the Pauline corpus as in 1 Cor. 14:34f. ... or 1 Tim. 
2:1 If., they are to be understood in relation to Gal. 3:28, and not vice versa" 
(p. 190). In the opinion of this reviewer, the principle enunciated in Galatians 
in no way contradicts the numerous passages elsewhere which clearly differ- 
entiate authority roles in the local church. 

Galatians is one of the pivotal books of the NT. It has been carefully 
studied for centuries. Yet each generation must grapple with its message if its 
truth is to mold us as it should. Bruce 's volume is a worthy contribution to 
the literature on the subject and will take its place as a standard source book 
for this generation of Bible students. 

Homer A. Kent 

Paul the Apostle: The Triumph of God in Life and Thought, by J. Christiaan 
Beker. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980. Pp. 452. $22.95. 

Beker's work on Paul's epistles and his theology is a landmark publica- 
tion in contemporary Pauline studies. Beker, Professor of New Testament at 
Princeton, is a recognized Pauline scholar and this work marks his own shift 
from pursuing Paul's sources in intellectual and religious Hellenism to that of 
Palestinian Judaism. Contra Bultmann and the Bultmannian school, he under- 
stands Paul primarily on the basis of Jewish and rabbinical sources. 

Beker seeks to establish the center of Pauline theology in the realm of his 
apocalyptic world-view combined with his Christophany, that is his encoun- 
ter with the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. This places the resurrec- 
tion at the center of Pauline thought, and his treatment of this subject is one 
of the highlights of the book. His critique of Bultmann's treatment of the cross 
and resurrection, maintaining that these are "two distinct historical events 
that neither can be fused or separated" (see p. 194), is extremely insightful. 

Beker limits the Pauline corpus to the seven books of Paul traditionally 
accepted by liberals as authentic; in my opinion, this greatly distracts from 
the overall richness of Pauline theology. In addition to this weakness, it has 


been pointed out by several others that Beker fails to see the apocalyptic 
dimension of Galatians. While many will not accept some of Beker's conclu- 
sions, his work is a significant contribution to Pauline studies and especially 
welcomed by those seeking a Pauline "center" (Kasemann = justification by 
faith; Martin = reconciliation; Gaffin = resurrection). Beker cautions us, how- 
ever, that it is futile to search for a center in a single word or phrase. When 
we speak of a center, we must realize that we are seeking a "framework or 
driving force in Paul." 

The strengths of the work are many. In addition to helping move Pauline 
studies away from the Bultmann-dominated realm of the past half century, 
Beker wrestles with development in Pauline thought and concludes, to my 
(partial) satisfaction, that it is contextual in nature. This, as opposed to modi- 
fication in Pauline thinking, especially when it is understood radically and 
not just in a sense of maturation, is a very positive step. 

Another important element in Beker's work is his ability to define salva- 
tion in Paul in corporate as well as individual terms. Of course, if one accepts 
Ephesians as Pauline, as I do, then Eph 2:1 Iff. is a wonderful picture of the 
corporate nature of salvation as well. 

The book is divided into four major sections: (1) An introduction to 
Paul and the character of his thought; (2) the contingency of the gospel as 
explained through the contextual theology of Romans and Galatians; (3) the 
coherence of the gospel as explained through the concepts of apocalyptic 
theology and the resurrection of Christ; and (4) a concluding summary of the 
triumph of God in Paul's writings. There is little question that this work will 
become a major volume in Pauline studies and that it will find its way into 
many classes of Pauline theology as a primary or secondary textbook. It is 
heartily recommended, especially for those seeking to grapple with the idea of 
"the center" in Pauline theology. 

David S. Dockery 
Brooklyn, NY 

Reconciliation: A Study of Paul's Theology, by Ralph P. Martin. New Foun- 
dations Theological Library. Atlanta: John Knox, 1981. Pp. 262. Paper. 

John Knox Press has assembled a fine array of scholars to write the 
various works in their New Foundations Theological Library, edited by Peter 
Toon. The most recent contribution in this series is the work by Ralph Mar- 
tin, Reconciliation. 

The book is an attempt to locate the center of Pauline thought by locat- 
ing an idea or term capable of uniting in its scope the diverse expressions of 
NT theology which is able "to provide a synthetic formulation of the Christian 
message that will be true to as much of the New Testament data as a human 
construction can frame." The basis of this work began iri a series of articles 
published in the Expository Times in 1979 and 1980. 


Martin seems aware of some of the dangers involved in this type of 
work, most notably the tendency to force an idea or framework onto Paul's 
thought in an artificial manner. While seemingly aware of this possibility, 
Martin does not avoid the pitfall. His work is a marvelous picture of exegesis 
and exegetical method, but his conclusions are questionable (as compared 
with J. C. Beker's; see my review of Paul the Apostle). 

Martin rejects Ephesians as Pauline, which is unfortunate for the defense 
of his case. Basically Martin works with 2 Cor 5:18-21; Col 1:15-20, and 
Rom 5:1-11, and considers Eph 2:12-19 from a deutero-Pauline perspective. 
For all of Martin's breadth of research and insight in biblical and theological 
method as well as the fine treatment of the term "reconciliation" (the author's 
main point is to demonstrate that reconciliation is the center of Pauline 
thought), his conclusion is unsatisfactory. 

The strength of Martin's work is that it does bring to the forefront a new 
understanding and importance of reconciliation in Paul's theology. Martin 
contends that the text reflects Paul's use and reworking of pre-Pauline tradi- 
tions so that thus constructed in the Pauline explanations of the term, they 
become the basis of the fullest sense of Paul's gospel as proclaimed to the 

It is difficult to see how Martin could attempt to make reconciliation the 
thematic center for Paul when there are so few occurrences of the idea in 
Paul's writings. For instance, it is obvious to most that the central aspect of 
Rom 5:1-11 is justification and not reconciliation. If anything, reconciliation, 
in this text at least, is a subpoint in Paul's overall discussion. That being the 
case, it would seem that justification is a more appropriate center. This illus- 
tration alone points up some of the shortcomings of attempting to provide a 
framework or center for the broad and complex theology of the apostle to the 
Gentiles. This does not mean that such a pursuit is not useful, but is an 
appropriate warning against arbitrary and artificial impositions on the Pauline 
writings or the NT in general for that matter. While this review has been 
critical of Martin's attempt, the book is still worthwhile reading and is a 
significant contribution to contemporary Pauline studies. The work is valu- 
able for reading if for no other reason than providing a model in exegetical 
method and theological trajectory. 

David Dockery 
Brooklyn, NY 

The Letter to the Hebrews, by Donald Guthrie. Tyndale New Testament 
Commentaries. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 281. $4.95. Paper. 

Recently, replacement volumes in the Tyndale New Testament Commen- 
tary series have appeared, updating its scholarship. This work by a compe- 
tent, British scholar is one such volume. The Tyndale commentaries provide a 
verse-by-verse analysis designed for any diligent student of the Bible. Like 
others in the series, this commentary is not technical; technical matters are 
generally restricted to the extensive introduction or to the sparce footnotes. A 


knowledge of Greek is unnecessary to use this work, but Greek words are 
transliterated and incorporated where helpful to the discussion. 

Guthrie's 50-page introduction does justice to the background matters, 
considering the conciseness of the entire volume. Though the topics are dis- 
cussed in the light of current, critical scholarship, the author adheres to tradi- 
tional views concerning purpose, date, and authorship. Regarding authorship, 
Guthrie follows the consensus of NT scholarship which rejects Pauline author- 
ship. His aim is to demonstrate the unacceptability of Pauline authorship and 
to present other meaningful possibilities. 

Without making overly dogmatic statements involving Heb 6:4-6, Guthrie 
presents the common views but gives preference to the idea that this is a 
hypothetical situation. On p. 145 he writes: __^ 

The writer appears to be reflecting on a hypothetical case, although in the 
nature of the whole argument it must be supposed that it was a real possibility. 
The intention is clearly not to give a dissertation on the nature of grace, but to 
give a warning in the strongest possible terms. The whole passage is viewed from 
the side of man's responsibilities and must accordingly be regarded as limited. 

His comments on Heb 6:9 (pp. 146-47) further demonstrate his views 
(cf. also pp. 219-20). 

Guthrie has not sought to be original in his interpretation. The book's 
strength lies in its clear analysis of the text and its summarization of other 
interpretations. Dollar for dollar, no set of commentaries surpasses the value 
of the Tyndale series; this latest volume deserves the same praise. 

James A. Freerksen 

Liberty Baptist College 

Lynchburg, VA 

Christian Theology, Vol. I, by Millard J. Erickson. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1983. Pp. 477. $19.95. 

For many years the trilogy. Readings in Christian Theology, edited by 
Millard Erickson, has been standard reading at many evangelical colleges and 
seminaries in order to expose the student to a variety of viewpoints related to 
different issues in the field of theology. Now Erickson, Professor of Theology 
at Bethel Seminary, has completed the first of a projected three-volume set in 
systematic theology. It is current and orthodox, comprehensive, yet readable. 
It is a volume (and hopefully a set) that will belong in the personal library of 
every evangelical pastor, teacher, and student. We can only trust that Erick- 
son will be able to finish the remaining two volumes with the same degree of 

The introductory section deals with the relation of theology to philo- 
sophy, biblical criticism, and current language and semantic studies. He also 
includes a section on a definition of theology and the simultaneous need and 
problem involved in contemporizing or contextualizing theology for our day. 
In this he opts for restating the classical themes of systematic theology with- 
out becoming overly creative so as not to overstep biblical revelation. He 
understands the difference between doctrine and theology and recognizes the 
need of permanence. 


Part Two concerns God and his revelation. He opts for the terms "uni- 
versal revelation" and "particular revelation" instead of general and specific 
revelation, although he does use the terms synonymously. The discussion of 
general revelation and personal responsibility is very helpful. He opts for a 
"both/and" answer to the question of personal or propositional revelation. 
There is a helpful survey of the different approaches to inspiration, and he 
maintains that verbal inspiration is the consistent position. This is followed 
by an outline of various approaches to inerrancy and authority. He shows 
that evangelicals generally fall into three camps: absolute inerrancy, full in- 
errancy, or limited inerrancy. He distinguishes himself from Lindsell (abso- 
lute) and Fuller (limited) and opts with Nicole for "full" inerrancy, which he 
believes takes into account the phenomenological language of Scripture more 
consistently than does "absolute" inerrancy. However, his view of full 
inerrancy may not sufficiently express all necessary nuances articulated by the 
1978 Chicago Statement. Chapter 1 1 on biblical authority is outstanding. 

The next section discusses the person of God: "What is God Uke?" He 
chooses majesty as "center" when dealing with the attributes. He suggests that 
this, rather than "glory," is a more appropriate way of describing God's 
greatness. His discussion of the categories of greatness and goodness are 
generally satisfying, depending on how one views the wrath of God in terms 
of his attributes. The discussion of the Trinity is helpful reading, with good 
illustrations and sermonic material. 

Section Four probably contains the discussions which will be most sensi- 
tive in evangelical circles (although the definition of inerrancy will be contro- 
versial in some places). The chapter which discusses God's plan (traditionally 
under the topic of decrees) is very helpful in distinguishing viewpoints. Erick- 
son opts for a moderately Calvinistic model that will probably be satisfying 
to most. His effort to correlate human freedom and sovereignty is certainly 
valiant, even if unsatisfying for some. I found it very helpful indeed. 

The chapter on "God's Originating Work: Creation" finds Erickson opt- 
ing for a day-age theory. He believes that the Hebrew word "day" can mean a 
period or long period of time, though he offers no evidence for this in the 
context of Genesis 1. There is a discussion of KnD which differs from some 
previously-held positions in conservative circles. He rejects the flood theory 
on the one hand (although he is apparently unaware of such works as 
Whitcomb and Morris, The Genesis Flood, 1961), and macroevolutionism on 
the other. This position will be unsettling for many, as it is for this reviewer, 
although it is very widely held in American evangelicalism. 

The discussion of the problem of evil, God's providence, and the work of 
angels, the devil, and demons is very complete. The discussion on the prob- 
lem of evil will help many a struggling student, not to mention some profes- 
sors. Without question, the author is well acquainted with the territory. 

Erickson's volume is a welcome addition to the field of systematic theol- 
ogy. It is neither faddist nor overly innovative. It is biblical and classical in its 
treatment of the major issues. It provides a good survey of the historical 
material without being cumbersome. The volume is certainly worth the price. 
Every student will find this must reading. 

David S. Dockery 
Brooklyn, NY 


Recent Homiletical Thought: An Annotated Bibliography. Volume 2: 1966- 
1979, ed. by A. Duane Litfin and Haddon W. Robinson. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 249. $16.95. 

Anyone interested in preaching and in learning about preaching can find 
reason for joy in this volume. Although the book's editors say that "bibliog- 
raphies have all the excitement of a telephone directory," we all know how 
valuable a telephone directory can be when needed. In a similar way, this 
bibliography will provide valuable assistance to those doing research in the 
field of homiletics. 

In many ways, the present volume is patterned after William Toohey and 
William Thompson, Recent Homiletical Thought: A Bibliography, 1935-1965 
(Nashville: Abingdon, 1967). The book's topical arrangements are in three 
sections: (1) books, entries 1-238, (2) periodical articles, entries 239-1609, 
and (3) theses and dissertations, entries 1610-1898. 

These three sections are then subdivided under various headings where 
the individual entries are given: general works, preaching and theology, topics 
of preaching, the preacher, the congregation, the setting — liturgical, the setting 
— special occasions, the sermon, delivery, history — individual preachers, his- 
tory — groups, history — periods, history — theory, bibliography, and teaching. 

The Book section was compiled with the aid of eighteen Th.M. students 
from Dallas Theological Seminary. The authors have included volumes pub- 
lished prior to 1966 if they were reprinted after 1966. In so doing, they also 
give the entry number of the book if Toohey and Thompson listed it (e.g., 
nos. 19, 47, 60). Occasionally, however, books which Toohey and Thompson 
omitted, and which have since been reprinted, have also been included. This 
provides a helpful supplement to the former volume (e.g., nos. 11, 25, 95). 
There are two weaknesses in the Book section. One is that occasionally a 
book has no annotation at all; only the title is given (e.g., nos. 10, 73, 92, 
100). Another is that occasionally the annotations are not very descriptive. 
This is especially noticeable when certain entries are compared to entries for 
the same book in Cyril Barber's The Minister's Library (e.g., nos. 4, 22, 33, 
53, 68). 

The Articles section is the longest part of the book, listing 1371 separate 
titles. It is more comprehensive than the title of the book indicates, since in 
several cases articles from prior to 1966 are included. The main reason for 
this is that while Toohey and Thompson only indexed 36 periodicals, Litfin 
and Robinson have included 100 periodicals. Pertinent articles which appeared 
in periodicals not included by Toohey and Thompson were included in this 
volume even if they were published prior to 1966. This is a definite asset to 
the researcher (e.g., nos. 242, 243, 245, 258). Some weaknesses also exist in 
this section. As in the Book section, the annotations are uneven. In many 
cases no annotation is included at all (e.g., nos. 289, 324, 699, 1322, 1399), in 
other instances the annotations are quite helpful (e.g., nos. 1429, 689, 1175), 
and in yet other cases the annotations are merely repetitious of the article's 
title (e.g., nos. 495, 1151). A further weakness is that the subdivision on 
"General Works" is too wide in scope and should have been further sub- 
divided for more clarity. 


The Theses and Dissertations section has no annotations at all. How- 
ever, references are given to Dissertation Abstracts, where appropriate, so 
that the researcher can investigate that reference work. Due to the specialized 
nature of theses and dissertations and their lack of easy availability, this is 
probably adequate for the purpose of this volume. This section is especially 
intriguing since it demonstrates that scholarly research is continuing on the 
subject of preaching. However, as the editors observe, much of this "comes 
from the ubiquitous Doctor of Ministry programs," and they wonder "what, 
if anything, it ever can or will amount to." 

An appendix, listing each of the 100 periodicals indexed, along with their 
addresses, is helpful to the researcher who desires to obtain certain articles 
but cannot do so at local libraries. Indexes of authors and personal subjects 
(i.e., persons who are the subjects of articles) also add to the volume's use- 

The editors' preface must be read carefully to appreciate this volume in 
its totality. In it they give their approach to the book and also some of their 
reactions to the literature compiled. One reaction is especially worth noting: 
"We are impressed — in fact overwhelmed — by the expectations writers place 
on preachers. No mere human could possibly fulfill the conglomeration of 
demands set forth in this literature. To say the least, the expectations are 

Two additional items would have been helpful to me. First, a complete 
topical subject index to the volume would make its content even more acces- 
sible to the researcher. Second, some type of marking to indicate which 
entries are especially significant and which would be profitable for a preacher 
to have in his possession would add to this volume's practicality. 

Merely investing in this volume will not make anyone a better preacher. 
However, using this volume as an aid to finding those sources which can 
stimulate, educate, and motivate should prove a benefit in more effectively 
ministering God's Word. 

R. Larry Overstreet 

Your Marriage Has Real Possibilities: Biblical Principles of Marriage, by 
Cyril J. and Aldyth A. Barber. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1981. Pp. 165. $6.95. 

You Can Have a Happy Marriage: Biblical Principles for a Mutually Satisfy- 
ing and Rewarding Relationship, by Cyril J. and Aldyth A. Barber. Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1984. Pp. 191. $6.95. Paper. 

The Barbers have given us a thoroughly biblical look at the marriage 
relationship in a style conducive to personal/ couple devotional study or use 
by a group. They present Bible couples as models to emulate or avoid, 
including interaction questions to stimulate thought and discussion. Readers 
expecting the topical how-to approach found in many volumes on marriage 
will be surprised by this deeper, principle-oriented treatment. The authors 


Stress that their books are not substitutes for reading the biblical passages; 
indeed, the relevant Scripture references are listed at the head of each chapter 
to encourage preparatory perusal. 

Each book presents its couples in the order in which they appear in the 
Bible (with the exception of Solomon and his Shulamite bride). Your Mar- 
riage Has Real Possibilities examines the patriarchs and their wives. You Can 
Have a Happy Marriage includes familiar Priscilla and Aquila, Joseph and 
Mary, Ruth and Boaz, but also couples less frequently considered: Hosea and 
Gomer, Esther and Xerxes, Claudia and Pilate. 

The Barbers have avoided a parade of unrelated character studies by 
consistently focusing on three concepts (derived from Gen 2:24) that they 
consider essential to a successful marriage: maturity, unity, and sexual com- 
patibility. Your Marriage Has Real Possibilities lays a foundation for per- 
sonal wholeness and maturity and expands to family life and child rearing. 
You Can Have a Happy Marriage is primarily concerned with the relation- 
ship of the couple. The interaction questions in the sequel seem more per- 
sonal and less generalized than those in the earlier book. Answers pertaining 
to an understanding of the biblical passage and its principles can be found in 
the books themselves or in the Bible, but the couple or group must draw 
upon its own resources to answer the practical application questions. Such 
phrases as "in what practical ways" and "brainstorm" are common. 

These two books reflect the professional career of Cyril Barber. One sees 
the blend of Barber the theological scholar (careful exposition, introduction 
and explanation of Hebrew terms, description of the cultural context); Barber 
the counselor and professor of psychology (cases, personal contacts, psycho- 
logical and sociological "findings"); and Barber the librarian (extensive biblio- 
graphical and scholarly notes and recommended books for further study). 
Intellectual integrity is demonstrated by not glossing over interpretive prob- 
lems (e.g., the nephilim in Genesis 6) but referring the reader to other scholars' 
works to avoid digressing. 

The Barbers are theologically conservative, but they are aware of con- 
temporary issues such as the working wife and the feminist movement. 
Arguments of the women liberationists are addressed, but Barber does not 
zero in on whether submission in the marriage role justifies the denial by men 
of equal authority and equal resources to women in spheres outside of mar- 
riage. Wifely submission is constantly affirmed, even in cases of doubtful 
propriety (e.g., Sarah and Rebekah passed off as sisters rather than wives). 
Abigail seems a poor choice for illustrating submission, but it is through her 
that the Barbers most directly attack the feminist viewpoint. She is lauded for 
presenting gifts to David even though that act is contrary to Nabal's expressed 
intent not to compensate David and his men. Should a wife do what is in her 
husband's best interest in spite of his statement to do otherwise? The Barbers 
praise Abigail for her after-the-fact disclosure to Nabal as "recognition of the 
headship of her husband" (p. 89). Is this really submission to his authority or 
did she take matters into her own hands? Abigail is described as having the 
"independence of thought and deed" (p. 87) that feminists say the principle of 
submission denies them. Is Abigail the proper example to use in refuting the 
feminist argument? 


Few authors can claim that their works have been scientifically proven to 
result in improvement in the lives of couples. Dr. Barber used these character 
studies in an adult Sunday school setting with a control group and verifiable 
tests to meet requirements for his doctoral studies in marriage and family 
ministries. The value of this approach to marriage enrichment is more than 
his subjective opinion. It is rare for a book on marriage to combine popular 
appeal with such careful scholarship and exposition. The Barbers are to be 

Paula Ibach 
Grace College 


ADENEY, MIRIAM. God's Foreign Policy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. 
Pp. 140. $6.95. 

A Guide to Christian Colleges. Christian College Coalition. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 160. $8.95. Paper. 

AHMANSON, JOHN. Secret History. Chicago: Moody, 1984. Pp. 179. $9.95. 

ALDRICH, JOSEPH C. Satisfaction. Portland: Multnomah, 1983. Pp. 24. 
$1.50. Paper. 

ALEXANDER, DAVID and PAT, eds. Eerdmans' Handbook to the Bible. 
Revised edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 680. $24.95. 

ANDERSON, NORMAN. The Teaching of Jesus. Downers Grove: Inter- 
Varsity, 1983. Pp. 219. $6.95. Paper. 

ANDERSON, ROBERT A. Daniel: Signs and Wonders. International Theo- 
logical Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 158. $5.95. 

APPLEWHITE, BARRY. Christlike: Lessons from His Life. Chicago: 
Moody, 1984. Pp. 140. $5.95. Paper. 

AUNE, DAVID E. Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediter- 
ranean World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 522. $29.95. 

BAILEY, KENNETH E. Poet and Peasant/ Through Peasant Eyes. 2 vols in 
1. Combined ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 187. $10.95. Paper. 

BAKER, DON. Leadership. Portland: Multnomah, 1983. Pp. 24. $1.50. Paper. 

BAKER, DON. Pain's Hidden Purpose. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. Pp. 111. 
$5.95. Paper. 

BARBER, CYRIL J. Ruth: An Expositional Commentary. Chicago: Moody, 
1983. Pp. 176. $7.50. Paper. 

BARBER, CYRIL and ALDYTH. You Can Have a Happy Marriage. Grand 
Rapids: Kregel, 1984. Pp. 191. $6.95. Paper. 

BARBER, CYRIL and ALDYTH. Your Marriage Has Real Possibilities. 
Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1981. Pp. 165. $6.95. Paper. 

BARRETT, ERIC C, and DAVID FISHER, eds. Scientists Who Believe. 
Chicago: Moody, 1984. Pp. 208. $5.95. Paper. 

BAXTER, RONALD E. Gifts of the Spirit. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1983. 
Pp. 266. $8.95. Paper. 


BLENKINSOPP, JOSEPH. A History of Prophecy in Israel. Philadelphia: 
Westminster, 1983. Pp. 304. $16.95. Paper. 

BRAY, GERALD. Creeds, Councils, & Christ. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1984. Pp. 224. $6.95. Paper. 

BROWN, COLIN. Miracles and the Critical Mind. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1984. Pp. 383. $18.95. 

BRUCE, F. F. The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 425. 

BUBECK, MARK I. Overcoming the Adversary. Chicago: Moody, 1984. 
Pp. 141. n.p. Paper. 

BURNS, KIERAN. Life Science and Religions. New York: Philosophical 
Library, 1984. Pp. 209. $25.00. 

CARLISLE, THOMAS JOHN. Eve and After. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

1983. Pp. 139. $6.95. Paper. 

CARSON, D. A., and JOHN D. WOODBRIDGE, eds. Scripture and Truth. 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. Pp. 446. $9.95. Paper. 

CHAPMAN, COLIN. The Case for Christianity. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 

1984. Pp. 313. $12.95. Paper. 

CLARK, GORDON H. God's Hammer: The Bible and Its Critics. Jefferson, 
MD: The Trinity Foundation, 1982. Pp. 190. $6.95. Paper. 

CLARK, GORDON H. In Defense of Theology. Milford, MI: Mott Media, 
1984. Pp. 119. n.p. 

CLARK, GORDON H. The Pastoral Epistles. Jefferson, MD: The Trinity 
Foundation, 1983. Pp. 294. $9.95. Paper. 

CLARK, WALTER JERRY. How to Use New Testament Greek Study Aids. 
Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1984. Pp. 256. $6.95. Paper. 

COATS, GEORGE W. Genesis, With an Introduction to Narrative Litera- 
ture. The Forms of Old Testament Literature, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 322. $21.95. Paper. 

CONN, HARVIE M. Evangelism: Doing Justice and Preaching Grace. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1982. Pp. 112. $3.95. Paper. 

DAVIES, PHILIP R. Cities of the Biblical World: Qumran. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 128. $6.95. Paper. 

DAVIS, JOHN JEFFERSON. Your Wealth in God's World. Phillipsburg, 
NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984. Pp. 134. n.p. Paper. 

DAVIS, STEPHEN T. Logic and the Nature of God. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1983. Pp. 171. $9.95. 

DOMINIAN, JACK. The Growth of Love and Sex. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1982. Pp. 91. $4.95. Paper. 


DRIVER, S. R. Notes on the Hebrew Text and the Topography of the Books 
of Samuel. 2nd ed., revised and enlarged. Winona Lake, IN: Alpha Pub- 
lications, reprint, 1984. Pp. 390. $24.95. 

EATON, MICHAEL A. Ecclesiastes: An Introduction & Commentary. Tyn- 
dale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983. 
Pp. 159. $6.95. Paper. 

EDGAR, THOMAS R. Miraculous Gifts: Are They for Today? Neptune, 
NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1983. Pp. 366. $11.95. 

EDWARDS, DAVID L. Christian England. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. 
Pp. 351. $8.95. Paper. 

ERICKSON, MILLARD J. Christian Theology. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1983. Pp. 477. $19.95. 

EWERT, DAVID. From Ancient Tablets to Modern Translations: A General 
Introduction to the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. Pp. 284. 

FEE, GORDON D. New Testament Exegesis: A Handbook for Students and 
Pastors. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983. $8.95. Paper. 

FEINBERG, CHARLES L. Jeremiah: A Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zon- 
dervan, 1982. Pp. 335. $14.95. 

FLIEGER, VERLYN. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's 
World. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 167. $6.95. Paper. 

FOUNTAIN, THOMAS E. Keys to Understanding and Teaching Your Bible. 
Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 230. $5.95. Paper. 

FOWLER, RICHARD A. and H. WAYNE HOUSE. The Christian Con- 
fronts His Culture. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 218. $7.95. Paper. 

FREYNE, SEAN. The World of the New Testament. Wilmington, DE: 
Michael Glazier, 1980. Pp. 199. $7.95. Paper. 

GEISLER, NORMAN L. Is Man the Measure? An Evaluation of Contem- 
porary Humanism. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 201. $7.95. Paper. 

GEISLER, NORMAN L., and J. YUTAKA AMANO. Religion of the Force. 
Dallas, TX: Quest, 1983. Pp. 61. $2.50. Paper. 

GERSTNER, JOHN H. A Primer on the Atonement. PhiUipsburg, NJ: Pres- 
byterian and Reformed, 1984. Pp. 30. $1.50. Paper. 

GERSTNER, JOHN H. A Primer on the Deity of Christ. PhiUipsburg, NJ: 
Presbyterian and Reformed, 1984. Pp. 38. $1.75. Paper. 

GERSTNER, JOHN H. Primer on Justification. PhiUipsburg, NJ: Presby- 
terian and Reformed, 1983. Pp. 26. $1.50. Paper. 

GERSTNER, JOHN H. The Problem of Pleasure: A Primer. PhiUipsburg, 
NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1983. Pp. 27. $1.50. Paper. 


GIANOTTI, CHARLES R. The New Testament and the Mishnah: A Cross- 
Reference Index. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 63. $3.50. Paper. 

GIRDLESTONE, ROBERT BAKER. Girdlestone's Synonyms of the Old 
Testament: Their Bearing on Christian Doctrine. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 388. $17.95. Paper. 

ary Theologies of Mission. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 251. $12.95. 

GOTTWALD, NORMAN K., ed. The Bible and Liberation: Political and 
Social Hermeneutics. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1983. Pp.542. $18.95. 

GRAYSTON, KENNETH. The Johannine Epistles. New Century Bible Com- 
mentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 174. 

GREENLEE, J. HAROLD. A New Testament Greek Morpheme Lexicon. 
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. Pp. 333. $10.95. Paper. 

GRUENLER, ROYCE GORDON. The Inexhaustible God. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 210. $11.95. Paper. 

GUNDRY, STANLEY N., and ALAN F. JOHNSON, eds. Tensions in Con- 
temporary Theology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 478. $12.95. 

GUNTON, COLIN E. Yesterday and Today: A Study of Continuities in 
Christology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 228. $7.95. Paper. 

HAMLIN, E. JOHN. Inheriting the Land: A Commentary on the Book of 
Joshua. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 207. $6.95. Paper. 

HARBISON, E. HARRIS. The Christian Scholar in the Age of Reforma- 
tion. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 177. $6.95. 

HENRY, CARL F. The Christian Mindset in a Secular Society. Portland: 
Multnomah, 1984. Pp. 156. n.p. 

HERON, ALASDAIR I. C. The Holy Spirit. Philadelphia: Westminster, 
1983. Pp. 224. $11.95. Paper. 

HIEBERT, PAUL G. Cultural Anthropology. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1983. Pp. 476. $13.95. Paper. 

HIEBERT, D. EDMUND. First Peter: An Expositional Commentary. Chi- 
cago: Moody, 1984. Pp. 329. $1 1.95. Paper. 

HINCHLIFF, PETER. Holiness and Politics. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. 
Pp. 213. $7.95. Paper. 

HOBBS, HERSCHEL H. The Epistles of John. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 
1983. Pp. 173. $9.95. 

HOLMES, ARTHUR F. Contours of a World View. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1983. Pp. 240. $8.95. Paper. 


HOLMES, ARTHUR F. Ethics: Approaching Moral Decisions. Downers 
Grove: InterVarsity, 1984. Pp. 132. $4.95. Paper. 

HUBBARD, DAVID ALLAN. The Second Coming. Downers Grove: Inter- 
Varsity, 1984. Pp. 121. $2.95. Paper. 

KAISER, OTTO. (John Bowden, trans.) Isaiah 1-12: A Commentary. 2nd ed. 
Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1983. Pp. 288. $19.95. 

KERR, RONN, comp. Directory of Bible Resources. A Comprehensive Guide 
to Tools for Bible Study. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 240. 
$12.95. Paper. 

KILPATRICK, WILLIAM KIRK. Psychological Seduction. Nashville: 
Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 239. $5.95. Paper. 

KIRK, J. ANDREW. Theology & the Third World Church. Downers Grove: 
InterVarsity, 1983. Pp. 64. $2.95. Paper. 

KONIG, ADRIO. Here Am I. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982. Pp. 236. $8.95. 

LaRONDELLE, HANS K. The Israel of God in Prophecy: Principles of 
Prophetic Interpretation. Berrien Springs: Andrews University Mono- 
graphs, Studies in Religions 13, 1983. Pp. 226. $19.95. Paper. 

LITFIN, A. DUANE, and HADDON W. ROBINSON, eds. Recent Homilet- 
ical Thought: An Annotated Bibliography. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Baker, 
1983. Pp. 249. n.p. 

MacARTHUR, JOHN, Jr. The Ultimate Priority. Chicago: Moody, 1983. 
Pp. 158. $4.95. Paper. 

MALONY, H. NEWTON, ed. Wholeness and Holiness: Readings in the Psy- 
chology/ Theology of Mental Health. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 
344. $12.95. Paper. 

MANSOOR, MENAHEM. The Dead Sea Scrolls. 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 242. $8.95. Paper. 

MARTIN, ALFRED and JOHN MARTIN. Isaiah: The Glory of the Messiah. 
Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 193. $4.95. Paper. 

MARTIN, RALPH P. Carmen Christi: Philippians 2:5-11 in Recent Inter- 
pretation and in the Setting of Early Christian Worship. Revised edition. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 378. $8.95. Paper. 

MAYERS, RONALD B. Both! And: A Balanced Apologetic. Chicago: 
Moody, 1984. Pp. 251. n.p. Paper. 

MAYHUE, RICHARD. Divine Healing Today. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 
168. $5.95. Paper. 

McDonald, H. D. Jesus: Human and Divine. Reprint. Grand Rapids: 
Baker, 1983. Pp. 144. $4.95. Paper. 


McKIM, DONALD K., ed. The Authoritative Word: Essays on the Nature 
of Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 270. $10.95. Paper. 

MEYER, MARVIN W. Who Do People Say I Am? Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1983. Pp. 89. $5.95. Paper. 

MOORE, JOHN N. How To Teach Origins. Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1983. 
Pp. 382. n.p. Paper. 

MOOREY, ROGER. Cities of the Biblical World: Excavation in Palestine. 
Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 128. $6.95. Paper. 

MORRIS, LEON. The Atonement. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983. Pp. 
219. $6.95. Paper. 

MOTYER, ALEC. The Message of Philippians. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1984. Pp. 234. $6.95. Paper. 

NASH, RONALD H. Christian Faith and Historical Understanding. Grand 
Rapids: Zondervan, 1984. Pp. 174. n.p. Paper. 

NASH, RONALD H. SocialJustice and the Christian Church. Milford, MI: 
Mott Media, 1983. Pp. 200. $12.95. 

NASH, RONALD H. The Concept of God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. 
Pp. 127. $5.95. Paper. 

NEILL, STEPHEN. 77?^ Supremacy of Jesus. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1984. Pp. 174. $5.95. Paper. 

NETTLETON, DAVID. Chosen to Salvation. Schaumburg, IL: Regular Bap- 
tist, 1983. Pp. 180. $5.95. Paper. 

NEWELL, W. R. Studies in Joshua-Job. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 
1983. Pp. 223. $6.95. Paper. 

NEWELL, W. R. Studies in the Pentateuch. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 
1983. Pp. 271. $6.95. Paper. 

NIDA, E. A.; J. P. LOUW; A. H. SNYMAN; and J. W. CRONJE. Style and 
Discourse. New York: United Bible Societies, 1983. Pp. 199. n.p. Paper. 

NOVAK, MICHAEL. Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age. Nashville: Thomas 
Nelson, 1983. Pp. 144. $3.95. Paper. 

ODUYOYE, MODUPE. 77?^ Sons of the Gods and the Daughters of Men. 
MaryknoU, NY: Orbis, 1984. Pp. 132. $12.95. Paper. 

O WINGS, TIMOTHY. A Cumulative Index to New Testament Greek Gram- 
mars. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 204. $7.95. Paper. 


World of the New Testament. Nelson Handbook Series. Nashville: 
Thomas Nelson, 1982. Pp. 216. $5.95. Paper. 


PALAU, LUIS. Experience God's Forgiveness. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. 
Pp. 24. n.p. Paper. 

PALAU, LUIS (as told to Jerry B. Jenkins). Luis Palau: Calling the Nations 
to Christ. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 207. n.p. Paper. 

PARSHALL, PHIL. Bridges to Islam: A Christian Perspective on Folk Islam. 
Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983. Pp. 163. $6.95. Paper. 

PATTERSON, PAIGE. The Troubled Triumphant Church: An Exposition 
of First Corinthians. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 326. $7.95. 

PETERSON, ROBERT A. Calvin's Doctrine of Atonement. Phillipsburg, 
NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1983. Pp. 113. $4.95. Paper. 

POLLOCK, JOHN. Moody: The Biography. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 351. 
$8.95. Paper. 

POWELL, IVOR. John's Wonderful Gospel. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1983. 
Pp. 443. $12.95. 

tic Healers: A Christian Perspective on New- Age Health Care. Downers 
Grove: InterVarsity, 1983. Pp. 171. $5.95. Paper. 

RIGGS, JACK R. Hosea's Heartbreak. Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 
1983. Pp. 171. $5.95. Paper. 

SAILHAMER, JOHN. First & Second Chronicles. Chicago: Moody, 1983. 
Pp. 116. n.p. Paper. 

SAPHIR, ADOLPH. Epistle to the Hebrews. Reprint. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 
1983. Pp. 910. $14.95. 

SCHAEFFER, FRANKY. Bad News for Modern Man. Westchester, IL: 
Crossway, 1984. Pp. 183. n.p. Paper. 

COCK. Who Is for Peace? Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 112. 
$3.95. Paper. 

SCHULWEIS, HAROLD M. Evil and the Morality of God. Cincinnati: 
Hebrew Union College, 1984. $15.00. 

SELL, CHARLES M. Grief's Healing Process. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. 
Pp. 24. n.p. Paper. 

Foundations for Mission. MaryknoU, NY: Orbis, 1983. Pp. 371. $14.95. 

sions of Mental Health. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1983. Pp. 178. 
$5.95. Paper. 


SHENK, WILBERT R., ed. Exploring Church Growth. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 312. $10.95. 

SIMMONS, PAUL D. Birth and Death: Bioethical Decision- Making. Phila- 
delphia: Westminster, 1983. Pp. 276. $13.95. 

SMITH, M. BLAINE. One of a Kind. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1984. 
Pp. 118. $3.95. Paper. 

STOCK, EUGENE. Practical Truths from the Pastoral Epistles. Reprint. 
Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1983. Pp. 342. $12.95. 

STOTT, JOHN R. W., ed. The Year 2000. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 
1983. Pp. 179. $5.95. Paper. 

SWARTLEY, WILLARD M. Slavery. Sabbath, War, and Women. Scott- 
dale, PA: Herald, 1983. Pp. 366. $15.95. Paper. 

SYME, GEORGE S., and CHARLOTT U. The Scripture of Truth: A Lay- 
man's Guide to Understanding How the Bible Is Inspired. Milford, MI: 
Mott Media, 1983. Pp. 121. $5.95. 

SWINDOLL, CHARLES R. Hope. Portland: Multnomah, 1983. Pp. 24. 
$1.50. Paper. 

Talk Back. A Directory to the Addresses of Companies that advertise pro- 
ducts on network television. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. Pp. 132. 
$3.95. Paper. 

TORRANCE, THOMAS F. The Mediation of Christ. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1984. Pp. 108. $6.95. Paper. 

TORRANCE, THOMAS F. Transformation & Convergence in the Frame of 
Knowledge. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 355. $24.95. 

VERMES, GEZA. Jesus and the World of Judaism. Philadelphia: Fortress, 
1983. Pp. 197. n.p. Paper. 

VOS, HOWARD F. An Introduction to Bible Archaeology. Revised edition. 
Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 118. $5.95. Paper. 

VOS, HOWARD F. An Introduction to Bible Geography. Revised edition. 
Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 120. $6.95. Paper. 

VREDEVELT, PAM W. Empty Arms. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. Pp. 126. 
n.p. Paper. 

WAINWRIGHT, GEOFFREY. The Ecumenical Movement. Grand Rapids: 
Eerdmans, 1983. Pp. 272. $8.95. Paper. 

WEBER, OTTO. Foundations of Dogmatics. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids: Eerd- 
mans, 1983. Pp. 721. $27.00. 

WHITE, K. D. Greek and Roman Technology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Univer- 
sity, 1984. Pp. 272. n.p. 


WIESTER, JOHN. The Genesis Connection. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1983. 
Pp. 254. $14.95. 

WILKEN, ROBERT L. The Christians as the Romans Saw Them. New 
Haven and London: Yale University, 1984. Pp. 214. n.p. 

WILSON, EARL D. Loving Enough to Care. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. 
Pp. 139. n.p. 

WILSON, EARL D. Needing to Belong. Portland: Multnomah, 1984. Pp. 24. 
$1.50. Paper. 

WOLTERSTORFF, NICHOLAS. Reason Within the Bounds of Religion. 
2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984. Pp. 161. $4.95. Paper. 

YANCEY, PHILIP. Guidance. Portland: Multnomah, 1983. Pp.24. $1.50. 

YOUNGBLOOD, RONALD F. Exodus. Chicago: Moody, 1983. Pp. 144. 
$4.95. Paper. 



The Appearance of the Messiah in Isaiah 53:2b, Davy L. Troxel. 
Apollonius' Canon and Anarthrous Constructions in Pauline Literature, 

David William Hedges. 
The Believer's Submission and Obedience to Church Leaders in Hebrews 

13:17, Kent R.Smith. 
The "Call" to the Ministry: External and Verifiable, Dan Gillette. 
The Christian's Relationship to the Mosaic Law, Mark V. Tropeano. 
The Christological Significance of Glory in John 17:5, Steve J. Hicks. 
Church in the House: A Return to New Testament Practices, James E. 

Colossians 2:15 and the Principahties and Authorities, Robert Lee Maziasz. 
The Concept of Perfection as Taught by Paul in Philippians 3:12-15, 

Timothy P. Rowland. 
Deceiving Spirits and the Character of God in 1 Kings 22 and 2 Chron. 18, 

Vance P. Ognibene. 
Discourse Analysis and Hebrew Narrative, Cynthia L. Miller. 
The Essence and Significance of the N.T. Terms for Local Church Leaders, 

Ronald A. Hall. 
An Examination of 2 Timothy 2:2, Edward J. Short. 

An Exegetical Analysis of Romans 3:25 Concerning Expiation or Propitia- 
tion, Ronald W. Shinkle. 
God's Gifts in the Old and New Testament, Robin Dallas Greene. 
God's Provision of Wisdom in 1 Corinthians 1:30 and James 1:5, Monty 

Wayne Casebolt. 
A Hermeneutical and Exegetical Examination of Proverbs 22:6, James W. 

Homosexuality, the Bible or Gay Advocate Theology, Steven L. Ward. 
An Illustration of Biblical Child Rearing in Second Timothy 3:15, Philip G. 

Implications of the Doctrine of Justification by Faith Alone for Evangelistic 

Terminology, Keith A. Shearer. 
Interpretation of Luke 15, John C Blackburn. 

An Investigation of the Meaning of 2 Corinthians 8:9, Minh ngoc Dang. 
Jesus and the Law in Matthew 5:17-18, Bradley B. Long. 
Koinonia: The Believer's Fellowship with God, Brian Silk. 
The Meaning of the Mandate "Do Good" in Galatians 6:9-10, Michael J. 

The Meaning of "the North" in Job 26:7, Donald B. De Young. 
The Meaning of pisteuo in John 2:23-24, Benjamin Small. 
Paul's Quotations of Isaiah 40:13a and Its Value to Paul's Use of the O.T., 

Joe Bartemus. 
Paul's Use of the O.T in Romans 11:25-27, D. Paul Williamson. 
Preaching in the Earliest Church, A. Wayne Lowe. 
The Present Intercessory Ministry of Christ, William L. Mullen. 


The "Receiving" of 2 Corinthians 5:10: The Believer's Judgement, Walter E. 

Reconciling All Things, Paul J. Schultz. 

Toward a Correct Understanding of Matthew 18:19-20, Charles C. Towne. 
Two Parables of the Growth of the Kingdom of God, Eldon Grubb. 
Understanding the Faulty Jewish Hermeneutic in John 7, Robert J. LaPine. 
The Universality of Spiritual Gifts, Kevin D. Korb. 


Abraham's Worship of God in Genesis 12-25, Stephen B. Putney. 

A Biblical Evaluation of Assertiveness, Douglas Courter. 

"Charisma" in 1 Corinthians 12, Benjamin R. White. 

Divorce and Remarriage: An Interpretation of the Biblical Evidence, Thomas 

R. Varney. 
The Filling of the Spirit as Illustrated in Acts 6-7, Edward B. Mensinger. 
The Greatness of Goliath of Gath, Peter N. Greenhow. 
The Hermeneutics of the Black Church, Ernest L. Usher. 
An Historical Development and Evaluation of the Time-Eternity Dichotomy 

in Orthodox Theology, James H. Stover. 
The Historical Significance of the Succoth, Neal S. Stockeland. 
The Idea and Practice of Witchcraft In and Around Ancient Israel, Brad A. 

Is Daniel's Concept of Angels Consistent with a Sixth Century Culture?, 

Rick A. Clark. 
A Methodology and Model for Teaching Narrative Material from the O.T., 

Mark Eckel. 
The Middle Voice in the New Testament, George J. Cline. 
The Natural Man, Robert E. Wiedeman. 
Psalm 51: A Preparation for Ministry, Riley M. Edwards. 
The Significance of mashiah in the Old Testament, Jeffrey P. Tuttle. 
The Soteriological Significance of Works in James 2:14-26, Daniel T. 

The State of Sinlessness, William L. Stroup. 
A Study oi yayin, Wallace Louie. 
A Theological Analysis and Interpretation of the Ascension of Christ, 

Ronald L. Beabout. 
The Time of Gog's Invasion in Ezekiel 38 and 39, Stephen L. Johnson. 
Understanding the Biblical Concept of Submission, Donald F. Vogel. 
The Use of Zechariah 1 1:12-13 in Matthew 27:9-10, Raymond P. Laborde. 
A Warning of Damnation to False Teachers Who Corrupt the Local Church, 

Steven C. Felder. 


An Interpretation of "Be Filled in Spirit" in Ephesians 5:18, William E. Arp. 
The Poor in Luke's Gospel, Gary T. Meadors. 


Religious Education and the Christian School Movement in Ontario, Harold I. 

The Role of Parents in Early Childhood Education, Kenneth McDuff. 



^ SEPT 88